Lionhearted—Mandated Vaccination | Uplift Family Services

Lion mother with cub in banner for Lionhearted

Volume 6 • Issue 4 • August 2021

Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.

New Twist, New Challenges

The California Department of Public Health has issued the following orders for healthcare organizations:

  1. As of Aug. 23, staff who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must be tested weekly (at no cost to them).
  2. By September 30, all staff must have received their final dose of vaccine: the 1st J&J dose or the 2nd Pfizer or Moderna dose.
  3. Employees who request and receive vaccine exemptions for medical reasons or strongly held religious beliefs must be tested weekly (again, at no cost).

As a physician, I am one of many who support the mandate. The delta variant is spreading dramatically, and our current vaccines are the best option—very safe and very effective—for stopping the latest wave of suffering and death.

That said, I am sad that it has come to this. As a trauma-informed agency, personal preference matters. Voice and choice are in our DNA. The “R” in our I-CARE values includes respect for personal preference, which is also central to the diversity we prize. Most of us understand why preference must temporarily take a back seat to safety, but we should not be happy about it.

I am very concerned about what this mandate will mean to the roughly 20-25% of our staff who are not yet vaccinated. Some will experience it as a tolerable nudge. Others will be displeased, maybe even resentful. Some will go so far as to resign from the agency—a prospect I find painful.

As a trauma-informed agency—as a trauma-informed community—it is our responsibility to support one another through this latest twist in the pandemic tornado.

Not vaccinated?

What would it take for unvaccinated persons to feel okay about getting vaccinated? The most common answer is accurate information. You can get reliable information about vaccination from the CDC, the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and your own health provider.

Unvaccinated staff have also expressed a sense of not being heard. If you feel this way, please ask someone to listen to you.

If you strongly object to vaccination, perhaps on the basis of personal liberty, I encourage you to weigh those concerns against other things that matter to you: a sense of purpose, making a difference, belonging to a team of mission-driven people, etc. Make a decision that is best for you. Yes, there are other jobs that might meet your personal and spiritual needs, and not all businesses are affected by the healthcare mandate. If you do decide to move on, I hope you find the right fit. But I’d much rather have you here.

Already vaccinated

If you are vaccinated, it is easy to feel puzzled and angry toward unvaccinated people. You worry about the health and economic consequences of a rapidly spreading virus and the possibility of new, more dangerous variants. You may have young children or loved ones in high-risk groups. Perhaps you have lost friends or family to COVID-19.

Vaccinated staff have a tall trauma-informed task: to understand and empathize; to withhold blame and judgment even as you strongly disagree.

We shape trauma

Trauma awareness is expanding. Instead of “What is wrong with you?” more people are asking, “What happened to you?” But that’s not the whole story. Trauma is not just about bad things that happen to you. It is also about individual and community resilience.

Trauma shapes us, but we also shape trauma. Vaccines are the most powerful weapons in our fight against the potential trauma of the pandemic. But when we look back, we will see that how we were there for one another determined the ultimate impact of the pandemic on our lives. Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole-person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally-sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy, and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.

EDITORS: MARK EDELSTEIN & ELIKA BECKWITH