TULSA, Okla. — The Supreme Court is ruling a vaccine mandate can be enforced for most U.S. healthcare workers.
The ruling specifically applies to facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.
“That does mean you’re going to be subjected to more rigorous masking requirements," said Adam Childers, attorney and chairman of the labor and employment section at Crowe and Dunlevy. "And there’s going to be this mandatory testing for the unvaccinated.”
For some in healthcare, the ruling is a relief.
“Nurses have a vital role in protecting their patients from the spread of viruses," said Shelly Wells, president of the Oklahoma Nurses Association.
For others, it’s leaving them questioning their futures.
“They all feel like they either have to choose between their livelihood or a vaccine," said Iris Bohun, a nurse.
Bohun was a nurse at a Tulsa hospital, but she said she was fired for not being vaccinated, citing concerns over the safety of the COVID vaccine. She’s now working as a nurse in Texas, but said Thursday’s ruling could change that for her and others.
“I tell you what, if it comes down to it, I will have to step out of this career before I get that vaccine," Bohun said. "And let me tell you, in the name of safety, with the amount of nurses willing to back out, that’s a very dangerous that the courts have made for the sake of Medicare and Medicaid funding.”
However, others in healthcare applaud the court’s decision.
Wells said most healthcare facilities already require employees receive other vaccines. She said, of last spring, about 80 percent of Oklahoma nurses were vaccinated. She anticipates that number is even higher now.
“I think it will help healthcare facilities and their agencies to provide a safer healthcare environment for patients, families, and their employees alike," Wells said.
The vaccine mandate for healthcare workers still allows for religious and medical exemptions.
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