Vaccine mandate: Religious exemptions end for hospital workers, now what?


ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Many questions are being raised over how hospitals are going to adjust to keep providing all necessary services following the religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers being struck down?  

There’s still objection to this mandate because several people, some of whom are now former healthcare workers, gathered outside URMC to protest this mandate. But with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reverse of the initial ruling in Utica, it will stand.  

Despite having to put off some elective surgeries where patients must stay after the procedure, Administration at URMC reports all COVID-19 and non-COVID emergency practices are going on as scheduled as the mandate takes full effect.  

“Everyone else that has an urgent or emergency need is being managed and cared for,” Chief Operations Officer Dr. Kathy Parrinello said.  

Of the more than 15,000 employees in the Clinical Department at Strong, less than 300 are still unvaccinated. Including those on Medical Exemptions. To fill any vacancies those who are vaccinated have signed up ahead of time to work extra shifts or adjust schedules.  

“We’ll plan to do that through the Christmas holidays,” Dr. Parrinello continued. “Having said that we continue to recruit we continue to have individuals that are already recruited and going through your orientation period coming off.” 

The argument for leaving it a choice still could be heard outside URMCs main entrance where now-former healthcare workers who told us while they love their jobs, they weren’t comfortable being forced to take a vaccine they feel needs more research.  

“You can’t get to a certain religious person and say you need to give blood,” Former Nurse Magdalene Bryant argued. “Some religious people may not give blood in their culture. Why as a religious person you tell me it’s good however, I should change my mind and get the shot.”  

Vaccine mandates in the state of New York are nothing new when it comes to getting into public school or becoming a healthcare worker. In order to work in the health field, there are already requirements to be vaccinated for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Influenza, Hepatitis B, Chicken Pox, Tetanus, and more vaccines are also recommended.

Administration at Strong Hospital said they will allow any employees who change their minds soon to reapply after they get their first dose. We reached out to Monroe Community Hospital and Rochester Regional on their plans following this mandate but have not heard back. 

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