Issued October 20, 2020
SEIU: Julia Shenkar, Julia.Shenkar@SEIU.org
AFSCME: Omar Tewfik, firstname.lastname@example.org, 347-248-2830
AFT: Marcus Mrowka, email@example.com, 202-531-0689
The following statement was issued by unions representing approximately two million healthcare workers: Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT):
The healthcare workers our organizations represent know only too well the devastating impact of SARS CoV 2. We have personally witnessed countless deaths. We continue to work every day to support patients who are gravely ill. We were exposed at very high rates to the virus, both in our communities and at work, and hundreds of thousands of us were infected.1 We have lost too many beloved coworkers and friends.
We know that we need a safe, effective vaccine to end this pandemic. When one is available that is clearly proven to be both, we are ready to both take the vaccine and to administer it.
However, while the Centers for Disease Control’s expert advisors recommend we be among the first to receive these vaccines 2, we are deeply troubled by the evident politicization of this process. We need a transparent, evidence-based federal vaccine strategy based on principles of equity, safety and priority, as well as robust efforts to address a high degree of skepticism about safety of an authorized vaccine.
There is a steady drum of reports that Presidential appointees have directly interfered in CDC guidance, corrupting a process which should be based solely on science.3 4 The President continues to insist that a vaccine will likely be available before Nov. 3, repeatedly contradicting even his top health care officials.5 While pharmaceutical companies have signed a statement of principles on safety and efficacy, they are also competing for billions of dollars in government contracts. Even a key staffer on the President’s Coronavirus Task Force has now spoken publicly about the disregard for human lives as politics was prioritized over science.
Given this record of politicization of public health, it is impossible for us to take or promote any vaccine without additional assurance from independent experts that the approval process has not been tainted. Once they recommend a specific vaccine or vaccines, we will be eager to work with federal, state and local bodies and with the leadership of the healthcare community and the communities we serve and live in to accurately educate the public and promote a fair and effective vaccination program for distributing this desperately needed vaccine.”