McKee ‘taking everything into consideration’ with health care worker vaccine mandate

Politics

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee is sticking by his decision to mandate vaccinations for health care workers, but says he’s reviewing a request to ease the fast-approaching deadline.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers penned a letter to McKee saying those on the front lines of the pandemic shouldn’t risk losing their jobs over not being vaccinated.

Speaking only to 12 News on Wednesday, McKee said he’s since looked at the letter.

“I have read it. We are certainly taking everything into consideration right now and we are reviewing the process,” he said. “We should have positions later in the week in terms of how to deal with the issue.”

The mandate requires all staff at state-licensed health care facilities to get vaccinated by Oct. 1. McKee said he put it in place to protect patients, which he reiterated on Wednesday.

“Health care workers need to be healthy to keep the people they are taking care of healthy. That’s the overriding message,” he said.

According to a policy document posted on the state’s website, unvaccinated health care workers will be placed on unpaid leave starting Oct. 1. At that point, they’ll have 75 days to get vaccinated or they could lose their jobs.

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Ray Hull said he wanted his name removed from the letter since he is the chairman of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Task Force for the COVID-19 Vaccine.

“As I looked at the bigger picture, I realized I made a mistake,” he explained. “The mistake was I know the vaccine is safe, the data proves it, and I want to correct the mistake I originally made by signing on.”

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