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It’s Mandate Monday
Much of the work that the state does, it has to be staffed in an immediate and on-going basis

With the announcement of Executive Order 21-29 came Oregon's vaccine mandate for all state employees, contractors and volunteers. Any employee who fails to provide proof of vaccination "will face personnel consequences up to and including separation from employment." Mandates for health care workers and educators are also in place.

Legal challenges still loom. Though the company continues to dispute it, vaccine mandates brought Southwest Airlines to it's knees as they cancelled flights and scrambled to get back to a normal operating level, and have arguably driven staffing shortages in Oregon medical facilities as many health care workers refuse the vaccine, the state pushes forward with it's mandate.

There has been some speculation that the vaccination mandate is more about power than about preventing disease. Many state workers still work from home. Many work in non-public facing jobs. Yet, the mandate makes no distinction. Some have wondered if the mandate is targeted at anti-vaxxers -- Trump supporters and religious nuts -- who need to be driven from state government. In fact, we'll probably never know, because the Governor's COVID Council has a very poor track record with transparency.

Governor Brown's announcement of the mandate on August 13 appeared to drive a small blip on the graph of vaccine administrations driving speculation that while some prefer to not take the vaccine, their careers as state workers outweighed these concerns. In a meeting of the Oregon Health Policy Board, OHA Director Pat Allen appeared to soften the mandate, telling state agencies not to fire employees over the deadline, but to keep them away from public-facing work.

Much of what the state does is necessary, but can be allowed to backlog, and for this kind of work, the state can absorb even a sizeable worker shortage. But for much of the work that the state does, it has to be staffed in an immediate and on-going basis.

For this kind of work, the state cannot understaff. This would be true of law enforcement, including corrections employees, state health care and mental health workers and care workers and contractors. It remains to be seen if there will be a problem in these fields and if so, how the state will respond. The Oregon National Guard has already been called out to fill gaps in the health care system. Perhaps they will be used to fill gaps in state government, but they can only go so far.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-18 09:41:54Last Update: 2021-10-18 12:25:54



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