Spending time at the gym on Sunday morning, the television in front of the rowing machine I was on was tuned to Fox news. The interview was of a nurse, fired because she wouldn’t get vaccinated. She was staunch in her belief that whether she’s vaccinated or not, it is not the business of her employer. It was a personal decision, about herself and her family.

About a month ago, I suffered a fall that sent me to the hospital and then rehab for a few days. I was, as so many patients are, vulnerable, reliant upon the healthcare professionals charged with my care. I couldn’t help but wonder whether those with whom I relied upon were fully vaccinated, or at least regularly tested for COVID.

Those entrusted with the care of others, can’t just think selfishly of themselves or their families, but must take into account those individuals who rely upon them. 

I think I would have felt most comfortable knowing that all those caregivers I was relying upon had been fully vaccinated, or regularly tested. But short of that, I would want to know if they weren’t and have the opportunity to refuse to be treated by the unvaccinated, untested. Those are my rights. In my best interest, and in the best interest of my family.

I’m not sure I believe in mandates, but I recognize that from what we’ve learned, mandates work. I would prefer, of course, that people voluntarily follow the science, and recognize that COVID is real, that vaccinations are our best protection, and that vaccinations are our way out of this – health wise and economically. 

Those who argue that restrictions are hurting the economy are too blind to realize that if we had adhered to some restraint and defeated this virus there would be no need for restrictions.

A compromise for those unvaccinated is that they be required, when dealing with others – and that includes the workplace – to be identified as unvaccinated. That way, others have a choice of whether they want to work under those conditions or not.

In healthcare facilities, areas of hospitals or nursing homes and the like could be segregated for unvaccinated staff and patients who are either unvaccinated or have no concern about being exposed to those who are unvaccinated. 

Freedom does not mean absolutely no restraints. We can’t just decide to drive a hundred miles an hour on local roads, just because we don’t believe there should be traffic laws/restraints. I don’t want a firefighter running into a burning building with a fire hose in hone hand and a can of gasoline in the other.

When we are most vulnerable, we have little control over the conditions put upon us, and our right to choose is compromised. 

To this nurse who was fired for not being vaccinated, perhaps caring for others, for strangers, was really not her calling. I’m struck by the final sentence of the Nightingale Pledge, often recited at nursing school graduations: “as a ‘missioner of health’ I will dedicate myself to devoted service to human welfare.”

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Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.