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Oregon Nurses Fear Vax Mandate Could Add To Staffing Crisis

Tiffany Eckert

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) voiced concerns over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for front-line health care workers imposed by Governor Kate Brown Thursday.

ONA President Lynda Pond said the organization endorses vaccinations for everyone who can get them, but there are worries that a mandate will exacerbate a serious nurse staffing crisis.

“That is already putting a huge strain on the backs of the nurses. And now, you have nurses that are saying if this mandate goes through, I’m going to leave. And if my hospital forces me to get the vaccine, I am going to leave the bedside.”

Pond, a registered nurse, said between 75% and 80% of Oregon nurses are vaccinated-- including herself. She said the ONA supports weekly testing for those who take religious or medical exemptions from vaccination.

Credit Tiffany Eckert
Dr. Karthik Mahadevan took his first opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine in December. He said it makes him feel safer doing his job as he treats patients.

She added hospitals and health systems must do everything possible to retain nurses, including maintaining adequate personal protective equipment.

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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