Tuesday, October 19, 2021

New York considers using the National Guard to replace unvaccinated health care workers

The state legislature is considering whether to try to fill the gaps left by the recent partial government shutdown with National Guard volunteers New York weighs using the National Guard to replace unvaccinated health care workers. On Thursday night, state legislators in New York took their first steps towards filling the gaps in the public health system created by the partial government shutdown and a cabinet

secretary quitting in January over her opposition to a New York health bill requiring vaccines for children starting in sixth grade. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office announced that, if the legislature agreed, it would use National Guard volunteers to temporarily replace state health workers lacking vaccines and go beyond that by creating a “National Health Education and Practice Zone”, a type of local health system.

“The National Guard is not a social service system but it can address what will otherwise be delays and dysfunction in the public health system,” said health commissioner Howard Zucker, a former doctor in the National Guard. At the close of last year’s partial government shutdown, Trump wanted to end federal funding of the CDC and the Office of Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has maintained local, state and

national immunization programs and supportive services for those most in need. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democratic, is considering using the National Guard to replace unvaccinated health care workers At the outset of the shutdown, as one disease stretched far beyond control, the CDC had begun implementing a contingency plan for how to manage an epidemic. Every state is expected to have its own plans. While

CDC funding is prioritized, states could use anti-prophylactic vaccine funding from the CDC on mosquito surveillance and conduct surveillance of imported virus disease to clear people of disease as well as conduct emergency preparedness planning. New York state, with more than 60,000 government workers furloughed since 22 January, was on its own and unable to procure critical vaccines. Since then, federal agencies

have continued its vaccination coverage through federally appropriated vaccine and supply credit for those working with the Centers for Disease Control. “No level of government is immune from not having staff to provide life-saving services,” said Jessica Seigel, a policy advocate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Governors and mayors are in a uniquely vulnerable position, as they are often the only

government officials that can make vaccines available on a practical basis.” New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is considering using the National Guard to replace unvaccinated health care workers. Several Republican members of the state Senate appear to support the plan. The author of the last vaccine law, sponsor in the New York Senate and Democratic Senate leadership have both spoken in favor of the idea.

The New York State Assembly passed a bill earlier this week and the two chambers must agree on final language for Cuomo to sign the bill into law. CDC immunization laws for school-age children include pertussis, chickenpox, mumps, measles, and meningitis. The CDC is supporting California’s school immunization bill that passed its first committee in the California legislature and could take effect this school year.

Vaccines are a favorite issue for democrats and republicans alike, because voting may affect a voter’s survival, and even more so for young children. Rebecca Walker, one of the co-authors of the California bill in the California state assembly said, “Through the forces of hard work and a bit of luck, I was able to become a doctor and help keep a child alive. It should be a joy, not a struggle, to take care of our

children.”

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