If you have to go to the hospital, or into a nursing room, or your loved one does, you have the absolute right to expect that you will receive high quality care and that you will be safe.
That means health care workers taking care of you will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and other contagious diseases.
Hello this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
We decided to require health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for three basic reasons:
- To protect our health care system’s ability to care for people by making sure health care workers stay healthy and on the job;
- To protect the health of those in Maine who are most vulnerable to the virus who happen to be in a hospital, nursing home, or other health care facility;
- And to protect the health and safety of all Maine people, patients and health care workers alike.
You know, just as vaccinations defeated small pox a hundred years ago, and with vaccine, we rid the world of polio, so with vaccines will we defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why COVID-19 vaccine was added to the vaccines for polio and mumps and others as a requirement for employment in Maine’s health care facilities. And now vaccination rates have risen rapidly among those health care workers.
This is great progress that protects front-line health care workers and the health and lives of people in their care, and that safeguards Maine’s health care capacity.
Unfortunately, seems like we’re facing two pandemics sometimes. There are two pandemics at work here – one is the pandemic of COVID-19, the deadly virus that’s taken more than 1,000 lives in Maine. The second seems to be the pandemic of fear and disinformation.
Among other things some people have dishonestly claimed that Maine people would die as a result of requiring vaccinations for health care workers.
That’s an insult to every Maine person who has lost their life to COVID-19, especially those who contracted it from a health care worker who chose not to get vaccinated.
In fact, it is this policy that will keep health care workers and their patients alive.
As of October 12, more than 6,000 health care workers have tested positive for the disease and more than 350 health care setting outbreaks have been reported.
The same folks who criticized a vaccination for health care workers have also said that we should provide a testing alternative.
Sounds simple, but the science doesn’t back that up.
The Delta variant – which is much easier to pass on – can reproduce in just 24-48 hours so weekly testing doesn’t pass muster. And the most accurate tests take at least 24-48 hours to come back, which means daily testing doesn’t cut it either.
The Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Health Care Association, nursing homes, hospitals, all support our policy because they know it is the best way to protect workers and patients and residents and to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed, thus preventing you from getting health care.
I am also committed to addressing the problem of workforce from the bottom-up. We’ve had a workforce shortage in health care for more than a decade now, and we’re tackling that head-on.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan for instance that was approved by the Legislature has just taken effect and that will allow us to invest millions in health care workforce needs and training and expansion of facilities and critical industries across the State of Maine will get help.
Maine is one of the most highly vaccinated states in the nation against COVID-19, but we are also seeing a surge of the more dangerous and highly transmissible Delta variant and that’s causing infections, serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, almost entirely among those who have not gotten vaccinated.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Getting vaccinated – which I think is the collective responsibility of Maine people and it’s something that more than one million of us have already done and something that Pope Francis calls “An act of love”– it’s the best and most effective way out of this pandemic. And the courts have agreed.
I continue to urge those who haven’t already rolled up their sleeves please do so and get your shot.
You can get COVID-19 vaccines all across the state. Just visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or call 1-888-445-4111.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening. Please stay safe.