Ohio: Continue to Allow Vaccinations for Healthcare Workers

The following statement was approved by the Ohio Nurses Association Board of Directors and may be attributable to ONA President Deborah Arms:

“The Ohio Nurses Association is deeply concerned with the sudden ceasing of COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers that has left registered nurses and other healthcare professionals unprotected against this virus.

In December, we applauded the state’s immediate actions to first vaccinate healthcare workers the day vaccines were available. However, as with most scenarios with the pandemic, the vaccine rollout proved to be disorganized, with some hospitals having a ready-to-go plan and others inventing a roll-out as they went along. Furthermore, the state and county supplies were uncertain, leaving healthcare facilities in a predicament for which healthcare workers are ultimately paying the price.

On January 15th, the Ohio Hospital Association sent notice to all Ohio hospitals that they must cease vaccinations for healthcare workers on January 17th except in limited circumstances. The notice was sent, it appears, after the OHA spoke to the Ohio Department of Health to gain clarity on the ODH’s latest guidelines. The two-day notice was unacceptable, as many RNs and healthcare workers had vaccination appointments after January 17th that were subsequently cancelled.  At some hospitals, RNs and healthcare workers had no opportunity to receive the vaccine before the arbitrary deadline was imposed.

The sudden deadline is unfair to all – those awaiting vaccination and those providing the vaccinations. If a deadline was always the plan, the ODH should have communicated that from the onset to allow healthcare facilities the greatest opportunity to vaccinate the maximum number of workers prior to the deadline. If the deadline was impromptu, the deadline should have been weeks out rather than days.

Even more concerning are the stories of healthcare administrators, some working from home, who took vaccine appointments before those in direct patient care roles. This is blatant disrespect for the workers on the frontlines and an exploitation of facility vaccine supplies, especially when we find ourselves in today’s situation where many healthcare workers are left unprotected against this debilitating disease.

We implore Governor DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Hospital Association to extend the deadline immediately and clearly communicate to all tier 1A healthcare workers the extended opportunity for receiving the vaccine. And while we acknowledge the challenging circumstances the state faces with the vaccine supply, we ask the ODH to be proactive with their communication if further tier deadlines are anticipated.”