Statement From Becky Williams on Nursing Home Workers and the Vaccination Effort for COVID19

Statement From Becky Williams, President of SEIU/1199 in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky & International Vice President of the SEIU, on nursing home workers and the COVID19 vaccination effort.

“Nursing home workers in Ohio have long been understaffed, underpaid, and forced to work mandatory overtime. During the COVID19 pandemic, nursing home workers have been required to report for duty amid sometimes unimaginable conditions over the past 9 months, while often being paid only poverty wages. Many nursing home workers have contracted COVID19 while working heroically on the frontlines of this crisis. Nursing home workers were also left unprotected after they were excluded from paid sick leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as amended by the CARES Act.”

“The Service Employees International Union Executive Board, where I serve as Vice President, adopted 7 principals to support the vaccination effort. One important principal established by the committee was that universal vaccination should be achieved through education and outreach.”

“SEIU District 1199 conducted an informal poll of nursing home members. Workers commented that the vaccine appeared rushed and unproven without enough data to show that it would be effective. Some workers are also concerned that the vaccine could cause fertility issues among women who may want to have a child. There are trust issues among frontline health care workers – some of which preceded the pandemic. These trust issues continue after so many nursing home workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic without hazard pay and support such as needed personal protective equipment.” 

“SEIU District 1199 has been educating Union members to support the COVID19 vaccination effort. The numbers shared by the State of Ohio reflect data gathered through a survey conducted by SEIU District 1199. However, this is a substantial issue that transcends union membership and requires outreach and education by the State of Ohio.”

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