Union: Prioritize frontline workers, but don’t mandate vaccines

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – A Centers for Disease Control Prevention panel made “the right call” in recommending that the first round of eventual COVID-19 vaccines be made available to frontline health care workers and long-term care residents, according to the health care workers union 1199SEIU.

Tim Foley, the union’s executive vice president, said in a statement that all front-line workers — including “home care workers, personal care attendants, hospital and nursing home admission, transport, housekeeping and dietary workers” — should be early vaccine recipients as more of the immunizations are produced.

Foley said most of the 70,000 workers his union represents “are Black and Latinx and have a long history of well-merited cultural distrust of government-mandated medical programs.” “There should be no mandated vaccination but instead all workers should be given focused and culturally competent education/training on the available vaccines, and afforded a full and fair opportunity to make an informed decision about the vaccine without punitive employment measures,” he said.

Foley added, “It is very important that such education include a strong health equity component and racial justice lens, which addresses both related historical racial inequities and the known culturally-related gaps in the level of trust that people of color have in the COVID-19 vaccine.”

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