Hi Ocean State Current:
I wanted to share my story with you about my experience with the healthcare mandate.
I was a school social worker in a local public school for the past 4 years. I worked in person most of this pandemic, supporting the children, teachers and community.
In my previous school, the teachers were not mandated to take the vaccine (and still aren’t) and I was told that I had the option to weekly test (as the teachers have this option).
The day before the mandate for healthcare workers took effect, I was told via email that I had to submit proof of vaccination or medical exemption. This was a huge change, since I had a school letter stating that I had the option to test.
I contacted the union and they said they could not do anything because it was due to the governor’s mandate. All of a sudden I was considered a healthcare worker because of my DOH license (never subject to mandates previously, outside of a health setting). I contacted the DOH and got mixed messages about being able to seek a religious exemption.
I was told many things that were untrue and it is my belief I was told those things to pressure me into taking the vaccine. It was truly a traumatic experience for me. I was lied to by individuals to pressure me and none of what they said had come to pass.
I am unsure how true this is, but I was told I am unable to work IN PERSON in the state of RI due to the governors mandate for healthcare workers. There are accountants, lawyers, even school psychologists (who don’t need to be licensed by the state), who work one to one with clients and who are not subject to this mandate, and pose no more of a risk than I do. It makes no sense.
I have contacted legislators with no response. I did receive help from one house representative, and wrote emails to the committee which is overseeing a pending bill that forbids discrimination based on vaccine status. Those committee members did not respond to me. I also received a canned response from a US senator stating how mandates are lawful and vaccines are safe and effective, and he completely ignored the fact that my personal situation is unfair and makes no sense from a public health perspective.
I wanted to share this with The Current because I know you discuss this topic on your In The Dugout show. It is incredibly sad and unfair what is happening in our state. Our elected officials don’t even respond to their constituents (including the governor) and they are completely oblivious to the struggles their policies are causing and they are out of touch with the people.
I am now unemployed after working tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Thank you for hearing my story. I am happy to share more in the future.
(For now I am anonymous, concerned about repercussions. Once I am re-employed and no longer in the process of looking, I would consider going more public with this story. I do have the letters and other documentation as well, for when I am ready to speak about this experience. It was so terrible, I don’t want to dig it up again while looking for a new career path.
I do look forward to a day when I openly share it and for those who were responsible for it have to face their decisions in the light of public opinion. I do believe something has to be done to stop all this and I will be there to help with that, when needed.)