New York health care worker fired for rejecting the COVID-19 shot speaks out against the mandate

  • Karen Roses, of Riverhead, New York, was discharged from a Northwell Health hospital for refusing to take the coronavirus vaccine.
  • The New York COVID-19 vaccination mandate went into effect Sept. 27 and required hospital and nursing home workers to receive their first dose.
  • Roses is among a fraction of healthcare workers who would rather be fired than get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Karen Roses spent over three years as a patient care technician at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, New York. She said the pandemic had been stressful, medical staff burned out and hospitals understaffed. Then came the vaccination order.

“They come out with the mandate and just threw us under the bus,” said Roses, 64, of the healthcare staff. She called the hospital “callous” for resigning staff regardless of how long they had been in the hospital or whether they requested medical or religious exemptions for the vaccine.

Under the state mandate that went into effect in August, New York hospital and nursing home workers were required to have their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by 7/27. Roses ended the day after the vaccination deadline.

Roses said unvaccinated health care workers are being singled out and blamed for the ongoing pandemic, despite initial suggestions that vaccinated people can spread the coronavirus as well. However, a recent study found that COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduced transmission of the virus by 36 to 65%, depending on whether a person took the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, NBC News reported.

In Suffolk County, where Peconic Bay Medical Center is located, 80% of hospital workers are fully vaccinated, as of Sept. 29. Nationwide, 87% of hospital employees are fully vaccinated. As a result of the mandate, the vaccination rate for hospital workers has doubled compared to the rate for adults in the country.

“It’s not just the healthcare workers. It’s all, “said Roses.

Roses said vaccination regulations put in place across the country for healthcare facilities and businesses would “take away the freedom of choice” of those affected. Roses added that she was not against vaccines and had taken other vaccines in the past.

“I don’t feel safe in my own country anymore and that’s really my strongest feeling,” said Roses. “Now I feel like a target.”

As Insider’s Allana Akhtar previously reported, some health systems have blamed unvaccinated health care workers for staff shortages, but the problem with unvaccinated health care workers could be overstated.

Roses said she won’t get the vaccine because it feels “pushed” and “forced” and it doesn’t guarantee she won’t get coronavirus or pass it on to others. Experts say the vaccine was developed quickly because countries and organizations invested heavily in its development, which saves time, Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl previously reported.

“God could come down and say to me, ‘You have to take this vaccine.’ And I’d say, ‘Sorry Charlie,’ “said Roses. “It’s not something that someone in particular or a particular group has to tell me to be safe. My research has to tell me that it is safe. The people I speak to … I don’t really know how to explain this, but I love that I have to see it for myself. ”

In its resignation letter, shared with Insider, Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care company, which owns Peconic Bay Medical Center, stated that Roses has received “multiple” warnings of the need for vaccination or termination. The letter added that she would be eligible for hospital reinstatement if she received her first dose in the “near future”.

A spokesman for Peconic Bay, a Northwell health facility, told Insider that Northwell had “taken a quick, aggressive approach” to getting its employees fully vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, we have had to lay off a few hundred employees, but we are happy to announce that most team members are choosing to vaccinate to avoid being fired,” said Victoria Palacio, spokeswoman for Peconic Bay, adding that she was cannot comment on how many employees were specifically laid off from Peconic Bay.

Northwell Health spokesman Andrea Mineo told Insider that unvaccinated workers were removed from the health system on Sept. 27.

“Northwell regrets losing everyone in such circumstances, but as health professionals and members of the state’s largest health care provider, we understand our unique responsibility to protect the health of our patients and each other,” said Mineo. “We are 100 percent vaccinated against COVID-19 for our employees, our patients and the communities we serve.”

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