Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Seeks Mandatory Vaccination for Healthcare Workers

Colorado Governor Jared Polis makes a point during a news conference at the Governor's Mansion Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Denver. The state plans to begin to administer the virus vaccine to people who are 65 years of age and up as well as to educators in the next round …
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) sent a letter to the state’s Board of Health on Tuesday asking it to make moves requiring healthcare workers in the state to receive a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, emulating actions a handful of states, including California, New York, and Maine, have already taken.

Citing a rise in coronavirus cases across the country, Polis called for the board to implement a vaccine requirement on healthcare workers, describing the current situation as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” and declaring the vaccines — which have not been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — “safe.”

He wrote in part:

After much consideration and conversations with both senior living industry leaders, patient advocates and leaders in healthcare, I am writing today to ask that you engage in expedited rule-making to require the vaccine for all personnel working directly with our vulnerable populations, personnel working in facilities with medically vulnerable populations, and personnel in the settings where people receive essential medical care. These are settings in which we have a responsibility to keep people safe who have little choice about their presence there.

“It’s critical that all personnel who are capable of bringing the deadly virus into facilities where our vulnerable populations are in their custody be fully vaccinated in order to save lives,” he continued, asserting that one unvaccinated person “has the opportunity to cause an outbreak and loss of life.” Absent from the letter is any mention of the prevalence of countless breakthrough cases of the virus across the country.

Polis said he is not making the request “lightly, nor with any pleasure” but said the “estimated 30-40 percent of unvaccinated staff provides too many opportunities for this virus to enter into these facilities.”

He also addressed issues of the disruption such a mandate could cause in the workforce, asking the board to take a “comprehensive approach to this rulemaking to ensure that if one facility has a vaccine requirement the staff does not leave to go to a facility down the road without a vaccine requirement.”

“As the State Board of Health, you are the body with the rule-making authority to craft a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to vaccine requirements for our caretaker and healthcare personnel,” he said, begging them to “without delay, begin the work to promulgate emergency rules pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-4-103(6)(a) to require all personnel working in facilities with our vulnerable populations in Colorado to be
vaccinated against COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus]”:

These rules should apply to anyone directly involved in health care and support staff who regularly come into contact and share spaces with vulnerable populations including patients seeking medical care in essential medical settings and in congregate senior living facilities. Anyone subject to the rules should receive a first shot no later than September 30, 2021.

California became the first state in the nation to impose a vaccine requirement for healthcare workers, and New York and Maine followed suit. The mandates have triggered protests across the states, as demonstrators and healthcare workers oppose the ultimatum of getting vaccinated or losing their jobs.

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