The Department of Veteran Affairs has been dealing with staff shortages for a while. Depending on the VA facility, there may be a shortage of 100 staff or more. No matter what they do to entice people to not only apply but stay, the shortages continue.
Not everyone at the VA is vaccinated.
According to the Biden administration, the Department should be at 100 percent vaccinated for the COVID virus. Particularly those in healthcare, it is all part of the mandate that Biden issued in the middle of last year.
Not everyone wants to get vaccinated. Some people have significant issues with getting a jab of a substance that has not been thoroughly tested. Others have seen first-hand some of the issues caused by the vaccine.
Most government agencies where people have refused to get vaccinated have been met with a number of pink slips. Vaccinate or be fired.
That’s not quite the case in the VA. If they were to get rid of the unvaccinated, the staffing levels would be considerably lower than they are now – and that’s not acceptable. So, the VA has chosen to look the other way in terms of whether their employees are vaccinated or not.
The deadline came and went – and there is an estimated 40,000 staff members who have yet to roll up their sleeves for the jab. Think about it. That would be a lot of people to let go. Sometimes, there’s safety in numbers. It’s as if everyone got together and simply refused, knowing that they would not be fired.
Many Republicans in Congress have been fighting to get rid of the vaccine mandate. With new science coming out to say that the vaccine may not be as effective as it was initially advertised, it makes more people hesitant to get the shot. Further, CDC numbers have been revised to show that not as many people got sick and died of COVID as what was initially published.
With the Republicans working to get the mandates lifted, it allows the VA staffers to continue working without fear of being penalized – even as they continue to refuse the vaccine.
That’s not to say that there aren’t vaccinated employees within the VA. In fact, the majority of them are. According to data released by the Veterans Health Administration, approximately 330,000 workers have been fully vaccinated, which is about 89 percent of the department.
Most of the health workers within the department were ordered to get the vaccine by October 8. Those who weren’t specifically identified as a health worker were given an extra month.
At this point, those who have chosen to ignore the mandate are likely not going to get the vaccine. It means that the VA has an important decision to make – allow the mandate to continue being ignored or be willing to part with 40,000 people.
It’s clear that the department has made its decision.
Approximately 37,000 or the unvaccinated have submitted exemption paperwork for religious or medical reasons. Officials are taking their time to process those while still focusing on keeping patients safe.
The reality is that it’s unlikely that anyone in the VA will be dismissed for refusing the vaccine. They don’t care what Biden has to say about it. The fact is, they can’t afford to lose anyone. As Mike Bost (R-Ill), a House Veterans Affairs committee member has said, “Staffing shortages will only make wait times longer, and that could have life or death consequences for veterans.” He’s right, and that’s why the VA would rather look the other way than to cower to the Biden mandates.