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Hospitals must take the lead on vaccine mandates

To see a vaccination rate of only 75% at any hospital is disturbing. This is no way to overcome the vaccine hesitancy.

Vaccine for health care workers
Dr. Marina Del Rios, from University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, the first person to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Chicago, gets her 2nd and final dose of the vaccination at Norwegian American Hospital on the West Side on Jan. 5, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Thank you so much, Maudlyne Ihejirika, for your excellent articles last week about local health care systems that are not mandating that employees get vaccinated. I share the outrage you felt when you were not told that an employee who would be in close contact with you was not vaccinated. I’m glad that after your article, NorthShore Health is now mandating vaccines.

I was extremely disappointed to hear that Northwestern Medicine has so far chosen not to require that of their employees. I would have assumed that a hospital with Northwestern’s reputation for being on the leading edge of medicine would have been among the first to require vaccinations.

I am healthy now, but as a three-time cancer survivor I had all my care switched to Northwestern. I trusted that they would provide me with quality care. But I will not be going back until I am assured that all employees must be vaccinated.

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If we are ever to get out from under this COVID monster, health care providers should be at the forefront of vaccine mandates. To see a vaccination rate of only 75% at any hospital is disturbing on many levels. This is no way to overcome the vaccine hesitancy we see in our communities.

Cheryl Kilian

Denying services from the unvaccinated

When it comes to vaccinations, as Maudlyne Ihejirika made clear in her column last week, somebody else’s choice potentially affects my body and my choice — and the health of all those with whom I come in contact. There is a simple solution to this problem for for Ms. Ihejirika. She can insist that only vaccinated personnel tend to her. If that cannot be done to satisfy her comfort level, she has the right to choose another doctor.

This logic works as well for other businesses, such as restaurants and bars, many of which are requiring proof of vaccinations or negative infection tests for patrons. This is a two-way street. Patrons have a right to know if their waiter and the kitchen staff are vaccinated. We need to do our research. If your waiter is not vaccinated, you should have the right to request one that is.

Your body, your choice. You have the right not to go to a place that cannot or will not prove you are safe there. And if you own an establishment that is fully vaccinated: ADVERTISE IT! My guess is that you’ll see an uptick in business.

John Farrell, DeKalb

Cancer, COVID and anxiety

I am a cancer patient at Northwestern Medicine. Three of the people there who work with me — two who take my blood pressure and one who is responsible for scans — are not vaccinated.

Some departments take COVID-19 restrictions seriously, others are lax. During an earlier wave of the pandemic, there were people in a waiting room with their masks around their chins.

Northwestern Medicine is supposed to be my safe place. Because of cancer, COVID and anti-vaxxers, I find I now have to take an anti-anxiety medication before going for treatment.

K.A.

Waiting on other hospitals

Maudlyne Ihejirika has provided a public service with her columns about unvaccinated health care workers. I was shocked to read that some of the “team members” at NorthShore with whom I had come in contact in the past five months may not have been vaccinated. Then, when I received a message from NorthShore later that day stating their new policy, I was like, “GO MAUDLYNE!!!!”

I am sure that your column spurred NorthShore Health to make that decision and announce it the same day. Let’s hope that AMITA Health and Northwestern now do so soon.

Rosalie Ziomek, Evanston

Mindful of other’s health

Maudlyne Ihejirika, thank you. As a chaplain, I was a member of a hospital health care team for almost ten years, and I find it hard that a hospital would have a policy on vaccines so uncaring and oblivious of others.

I am now a pastor at a small church in the suburbs. I work with a congregation of mostly seniors, most of them in fragile health. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I were responsible for passing along COVID to any of them. As your column shows, Maudlyne, it doesn’t always matter how careful we are. We may still unwittingly be exposed to a serious disease.

Rev. Elizabeth Jones, pastor at St. Luke’s Christian Community Church