JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With new COVID-19 vaccines coming to many long-term care facilities, mandating getting the vaccine has become controversial.
As of Tuesday, Dec 29, there is no mandate for health care workers or residents to get the vaccine.
The decision to mandate vaccination is that of the facility on a facility by facility basis, according to Arkansas Health Care Association Executive Director Rachel Bunch.
She believes that the bulk of residents and staff will take the vaccine over time, but it will be a process that requires education and patience.
Below is the full statement Bunch sent Region 8 News when we asked about vaccine mandates in long-term care facilities.
“The LTC community in Arkansas began receiving and administering COVID-19 vaccinations this week. We are very excited about this opportunity to provide protection from the virus to our staff and residents in the hopes of saving lives, avoiding illness and, hopefully sometime soon, allowing family and friends to once again visit their loved ones. It’s a real step forward.”
“However, as with all things associated with this pandemic, it brings challenges and calls for difficult decisions. In this case, the main issue is whether a LTC facility should mandate that staff receive the vaccine, or to make it optional. The balance here is to do all that is possible to protect our residents but also respecting the concerns of our hardworking staff around the state. As this issue has been considered by the industry in Arkansas, and around the country, one clear path forward has not emerged.”
“The decision whether to mandate vaccines to the staff is being made on a facility by facility basis. It is expected that some will mandate it, while others will make it optional but encourage that staff receive the vaccination. (Exceptions will be considered for religious and health considerations as required by federal law). Over time, we believe that the bulk of our residents and staff will receive it, but it is going to be a process that requires education and patience.”