La Crosse nurse speaks out against COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Gundersen officials back decision

Gundersen Health System leaders stand by Nov. 1 COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff after nurse speaks out on CNN

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A Gundersen Health System nurse is speaking out against the company’s vaccine mandate. Healthcare workers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1 could be fired.

In September, employees of Gundersen Health System held signs outside the La Crosse location revealing their displeasure with the healthcare system’s decision to require a COVID-19 vaccine by November. 

“It shouldn’t be a choice between a personal health care decision and the job that we love,” said Andrea Babinski on CNN Friday.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with Babinski about why she said she doesn’t plan to get the shot.

“I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m not anti-COVID vaccine,” Babinski said. “But at the end of the day, informed consent is what we all honor in nursing.”

Babinski told CNN she understands the danger of COVID-19 but doesn’t believe the vaccine is the best option for protection. Dr. Gupa countered saying Babinski should understand the proven data better than most Americans.

The Biden administration announced this month that it will require all staff at all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities to be vaccinated which Gundersen Health System falls under. The healthcare system elected not to wait for the federal government to step in and issued its own mandate. An official with Gundersen told News 8 Now today it stands by its vaccine mandate.

Wisconsin law already requires vaccinations for hospital staff for other infectious diseases, and employer mandates of the COVID-19 vaccine have been upheld in court. Mandates appear to work in parts of the country like New York where about 92% of hospital staff have received at least one dose. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday most people wait until the last minute.

“And this is why all over the country schools should do it,” de Blasio said. “Cities should do it. Mayor should step up. Governors should step up for their states.”

Serious side effects remain “extremely unlikely,” according to the CDC. The unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die and 10 times more likely to end up in the hospital with Covid-19, according to the CDC.

“As far as right now, I have no plans to get vaccinated, but I’m willing to keep the conversation open,” Babinski said.

Right now, Gundersen Health System leaders are sticking with a mandate they say is for the safety of their patients, staff, and the community at large.

As of September, about 85 percent of staff at Gundersen Health System were vaccinated for COVID-19. Gundersen Health System doubled down Monday saying the vaccine is the best protection against the virus.

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