Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates May Alienate Healthcare Workers But Woo Patients

In the latest efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, healthcare organizations across the country have announced vaccine mandates for employees ahead of new federal vaccination requirements

Many providers are paying the price for vaccine mandates with staff resignations and suspensions. Some have had to close whole services as a result. 

But what vaccine mandates may cost healthcare providers in terms of employee retention could yield dividends through improved consumer trust.

“I would feel more comfortable seeking care from healthcare providers who are fully vaccinated,” said Emily Cooper, New York City-based founder and general director Oliver Wicks, a luxury menswear brand. “I choose to trust in the power of science, and I believe that interacting with fully vaccinated people will lower the chances of spreading the virus further.” 

Rachel Wahba, 30, a New York City-based certified life coach, agrees. 

“I would be more likely to seek services from a context where all staff members are required to be vaccinated,” Wahba said. “In [healthcare] settings, where it’s likely we’ll be in close contact, I feel more comfortable knowing they’re less likely to carry the virus.”

Some consumers take it further, refusing to see providers who don’t mandate vaccination.

“I will ONLY go to healthcare providers where everyone working there is vaccinated,” said Shaun Eli Breidbart, 60, a stand-up comedian based in the New York City area.

In researching a particular provider, Breidbart learned that the medical staff were vaccinated but that office staff were not. He said thanks but no thanks. 

“Why would I go somewhere where even the doctor is not taking actions to protect the health of his [or] her patients?” Breidbart said.

Others also see mandating vaccinations as a sign of a provider’s commitment to their patients. 

Ayana King, CEO and founder of Maximum Communications, LLC, says her entire household got sick with Covid-19 in March and she still faces residual health issues. She’s afraid of what might happen if she gets infected again. 

“I think all healthcare providers have a duty to keep their patients safe,” King said. “Vaccines are a good starting point.” 

Amy Wampler, CEO of Spartan Mechanical, an Indiana-based HVAC contractor, thinks providers who don’t get vaccinated are taking “a selfish approach” and would stay away from them.

Some people are avoiding care altogether because of concerns that staff may not be vaccinated. 

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell, 57, a widow from rural Arkansas, rescheduled her colonoscopy until after the provider’s vaccine mandate takes effect on October 1. She won’t even go near a healthcare system closer to home because they haven’t announced a vaccine mandate at all.

“I will not be going there until they get one,” Fivecoat-Campbell said.

Jayne Wallace, 65, of Sarasota, Florida, says she always asks about vaccination status before seeing a healthcare provider. 

“For that matter, I ask at restaurants as well,” Wallace said.

Before giving blood, Wallace called to ask if everyone at the site was vaccinated. “They laughed and said, ‘OMG of course!’” 

Wallace says there’s no excuse for not being vaccinated unless a real medical condition prohibits it. (In reality, there are virtually no medical conditions that warrant avoiding the Covid-19 vaccines.)