Posted: Aug 19, 2021

Governor Kate Brown today announced a new rule requiring all healthcare workers, nursing home workers and public school workers to be fully immunized by October 18. This follows an announcement on Wednesday by President Joe Biden ordering all nursing homes across the country to require staff to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Governor’s directive will impact many members of our union, including workers in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult foster homes and non-profit organizations providing nursing services. health, counseling or drug treatment.

Government employees and university employees have also seen warrants from their employers in recent weeks.

Because we have a union, we have the right to negotiate with employers on the impact of the policy. SEIU 503 President Mike Powers shared these thoughts on the situation:

“Regarding the mandate of vaccines, there is no consensus among our members. People strongly support the mandate and people strongly oppose the mandate. But I think we can all agree that having a say in the impact of this new policy on our lives is a good thing. The next few weeks are going to be difficult. I am grateful that I don’t have to go it alone.

What you need to know about the new vaccine mandates.

When will the policy come into effect?

At once. The deadline for workers to be fully immunized is October 18.

Who does this impact?

  • This will impact all healthcare workers, including workers in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult foster homes and non-profit organizations providing healthcare services, addiction counseling or treatment.
  • This will impact all Oregon public school employees.
  • It will be not impact most home care or personal support workers, child care workers, or private not-for-profit organizations that do not provide “health care” services.

What if I work in a healthcare facility but am a cook / janitor / administrator and not work directly with patients?

You will still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I be fired if I refuse to be vaccinated?

The governor’s announcement does not go into that level of detail, and each employer will have to create their own policy. But employees who do not have an exemption and refuse to be vaccinated could face disciplinary action up to and including termination.

What are the exemptions?

This is something we can work out during negotiations. But the exemptions include disability, qualifying medical conditions, or sincere religious beliefs.

Workers will have to request, in writing, that they receive a qualifying exemption by October 18. The process for requesting an exemption will need to be developed by employers.

Is the vaccine safe? Is it effective?

Yes. In Oregon, more than 2 million people have been safely vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The vaccines are free and effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant. The vaccine will also reduce your chances of getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying if you contract COVID-19. Ultimately, the vaccine is our best weapon in the fight to reopen Oregon.

Where can I get the COVID vaccine?

Vaccines are readily available throughout Oregon, free, at many drugstores or vaccination sites set up by public health officials. Go to Get vaccinated.Oregon.Gov to find a location near you.

For more information on the vaccine, visit our online resource center.

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