Out of Work Nurse
Devon E. Jones, RN BSN
I have now been an out of work nurse for six months for refusing the COVID vaccine.
I worked as a registered nurse at Atlantic Health System’s (AHS) Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ from 2017 to December 2021. I worked in one of their designated COVID units during the first wave of COVID in the Spring of 2020.
I was placed on unpaid administrative leave because of the federal mandate stating that all medical facilities that accept Medicaid and Medicare must vaccinate all employees. Soon after, I found a new position working in a surgical center that did not accept Medicaid and Medicare. Before I started that position, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey passed a mandate stating that all healthcare employees must be vaccinated.
Events leading up to losing my position
Before my placement on unpaid administrative leave from Atlantic Health, I wrote to my management and Human Recourses to ask them to stand up for their employees. I was not alone in my refusal of the vaccines – any employee that was not vaccinated was required to have weekly COVID-19 testing. I happily did this as an alternative to the vaccine to ensure that I was keeping my patients and fellow employees safe. Each week, I, with fellow employees lined up to get tested. This testing was only for the unvaccinated employees, vaccinated or anyone who had been exposed went to outpatient for testing. Not just nurses were there. I saw Physician Assistants, transporters, management, and housekeeping – people from a variety of departments.
As AHS got closer to the vaccination mandate date of December 5th fewer of us were coming for weekly testing. I got bold, I knew these people were still showing up to get testing were refusing for a reason. I wanted to know why. Most said they had not been vaccinated because of a lack of safety testing.
“Do you think you are going to get vaccinated?”
They answered – yes, I can’t afford to not work.
On my last day, a woman who worked on my unit said she wished she could make a stand with me, but had a mortgage to pay.
I was in a fortunate position to say no. I have a husband with a career that can support our family without me working.
After I lost my position, I only found one other employee – a fellow nurse who also continued to refuse.
Some employees who might have said no were able to apply for medical or religious exemptions. However, it would not be so easy for them either. When the final mandate went into effect, AHS also changed its policy. The unvaccinated would now have to test twice a week, every three days. The weekly testing had gotten many people to comply with vaccine mandates because many employees have long commutes or work at satellite facilities. It was too difficult to comply with testing. Now, testing twice weekly with even more limitations on times was almost impossible. I know of one woman who was granted her medical exemption but chose to get vaccinated anyway because the testing requirement was unreasonable for her to keep up.
Why so much resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, safety testing, but beyond that, where is the accountability? If I or my fellow employee are injured by the vaccine we are mandated to take, who is accountable?
In the United States, if you are injured by any of the currently mandated vaccines you can petition for compensation through the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 authorized National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) which is paid for by taxpayers instead of vaccine manufacturers. Injury caused by the COVID-19 vaccines are paid for through the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorized Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
According to an MSNBC article from March 2021:
The CICP rarely pays, rejecting more than 90% of claims filed, according to HHS and FOIA records. When it does, the claims average around $200,000 — about 60% less than the average payment under the NVICP, according to HHS data. Since the program was founded in 2009, it has paid out only 29 claims as of August, for the H1N1 and smallpox vaccines.
As of November 2021 a Forbes article states that CICP nor the federal government have paid for any injuries due to the COVID-19 vaccine. This is odd when there were 1,357 CICP claims filed, 53 of those claims were listed as deaths. This is small compared to the national self-reporting system, VAERS, which listed 5,326 deaths occurring within 3 days of vaccination and a total of 778,685 total adverse events (Sen. Ron Johnson Press Release, October 19, 2021).
My conclusion and why losing my job still hurts
No one is accountable for injuries sustained by the COVID vaccine. This is why I said no and continue to say no to the COVID-19 vaccines, even if it has cost me my career.
Losing my career hurts. I loved my job. I loved working in bedside nursing. I loved making a difference in my patient’s day. I chose to stay in this position when it got tough during COVID and then during the short staffing because it was the right thing to do.
Now, I am nothing. I am nothing to the company that I stayed with and worked for during COVID. I am nothing to my federal or state government who has decided I am not good enough to work in my chosen profession or receive unemployment benefits.
So when much of the country says that COVID is over, remember that it’s not. Two of the many fights left to fight are for:
- Those who chose to vaccinate and are still suffering from injuries.
- The jobs, such as healthcare, that still have vaccine mandates as a point of entry.