Oregon has a seeming contradiction in its laws for immunizations.
Your employer can likely require you to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Employers of health care workers can’t require that health care workers get vaccinated. That’s the law.
Oregon Revised Statute 433.416 says that employers of health care workers must provide preventive immunizations to those workers at no cost. But then it goes on to say: “A worker shall not be required as a condition of work to be immunized under this section, unless such immunization is otherwise required by federal or state law, rule or regulation.”
Now that’s just strange. On the front lines of the pandemic, health care workers didn’t have to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Doesn’t that put patients at greater risk? Yes. Shouldn’t the Legislature have done something about that?
The state is just shy of a 70% vaccination rate and the COVID-19 restrictions are, for the most part, over. St. Charles Health System told us Thursday 75% of its 4,668 caregivers are vaccinated for COVID-19. Better than the general population.
We hate to even think about it, but this won’t be the last pandemic. And it shouldn’t take a pandemic to think about changing the law. People in the hospital are vulnerable. A flu vaccination for a health care worker can help ensure people don’t get sick.
Former state Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, made a pass at changing the law in 2012, aiming to require unvaccinated health care workers to sign a form stating why they did not get vaccinated. But the law is still essentially what it was in 1989. As Willamette Week reported: “No bill to reverse the 1989 law was introduced in the last legislative session.”
Should Oregon change the law? Or if health care workers get that treatment under Oregon law, should other Oregonians get that same choice?