Orleans joins other counties in asking Hochul to reconsider vaccine booster mandate for healthcare workers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 January 2022 at 9:24 am

Orleans County is joining 10 other counties in the Finger Lakes in asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to reconsider a vaccine booster requirement for healthcare workers.

Gov. Kathy Hochul

Hochul announced on Jan. 7 that healthcare workers would be required to get the booster within two weeks of being eligible.

County leaders wrote in a Jan. 12 letter to Hochul that their healthcare systems are already short-staffed and overwhelmed, and the booster mandate will further strain the hospital workforce.

“Our hospital systems are facing severe staffing shortages coupled with increasing patient loads caused by the Omicron surge,” according to the letter from county officials in Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Steuben, Livingston, Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Ontario, Wayne and Monroe. “We have significant concerns that if even a handful of healthcare workers are dismissed for their refusal to receive the booster within the designated timeframe, it could exacerbate an already tenuous situation.”

The counties tell Hochul that each county “fully supports the value of vaccinations and has worked tirelessly to administer vaccinations to our citizens.”

The coalition of counties asked Hochul to offer a test-out option on a temporary basis for vaccinated healthcare workers who don’t have the booster in the timeframe put forth by the governor. That option could just be “until the Omicron wave subsides and the hospital capacity crisis abates,” according to the letter from the counties.

“Our concerns are the potential negative impacts to an already beleaguered healthcare workforce at a time when our communities can least afford it,” the letter concludes.