Health Care Maine’s Tiffany Kreck was featured on Newsradio WGAN’s Inside Maine Podcast, where she joined host Nick Murray to talk about HCM’s campaign against Maine EMS’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on November 10, 2021 released its final rule updating the immunization requirements for healthcare workers at designated healthcare facilities to include the COVID-19 vaccine.
Unlike the emergency rule that went into effect in August, the final rule does not apply to dental health practices or emergency medical services (EMS) organizations. Removing these groups came after action by Health Care Maine and other organizations who insisted that DHHS lacked authority to include those organizations.
Kreck headlined the issue by saying that as of November 2021, all of the towns and EMS agencies across the state could have brought back terminated workers. We know more about COVID-19 vaccines now than ever; it’s become obvious that vaccines neither prevent infection nor transmission in all cases.
But a year on, very few did, despite critical worker shortages and deteriorating response times. In fact, Maine EMS is working in the opposite direction. In July 2022 it implemented a permanent rule with its own immunization requirements for vaccines (an unprecedented action!) that’s more restrictive and intrusive. The result was more terminations.
Especially in more rural communities, this is a cost that lands directly on the shoulder’s of Maine citizens. You need to call 911, and an ambulance is not going to arrive. And that sounds hyperbolic, but when you have miles and miles of territory without EMT services, that’s the reality. It’s not going to be the the Director of Maine EMS, it’s not going to be Janet Mills that pays this cost. It’s gonna be someone you love, that needed help, and help didn’t arrive.
Why are we making it harder for towns and agencies to maintain a safely staffed ambulance?