Nebraska ads for nurses criticized

Nebraska ads for nurses criticized

LINCOLN, Neb. and OMAHA — Omaha and Lincoln’s largest health care systems announced last week that they will soon require their doctors, nurses and medical staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

This week, mailers advertising state jobs in nursing – and the state’s lack of a vaccine mandate for medical staff – started hitting local mailboxes.

State agencies are also advertising online for nursing jobs, including at the state’s nursing homes for elderly veterans, and they’re doing so by emphasizing the same lack of a vaccine mandate.

Local nurses who spoke with 3 News Now, including Lincoln nurse Katherine Wolverton, said they couldn’t believe Nebraska’s decision to recruit nurses this way.

She says she received her mailer on Monday, and that it “felt really frustrating to me.”

The mailer asks local nurses if they are looking for a new job and says that nursing jobs for state government encourage, but do not require, COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s again not believing in these evidence-based facts,” she said. “And if you’re working with an elderly population, you’re putting them at additional risk by not being vaccinated yourself.”

Taylor Gage, a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, had no immediate comment about who approved the ads, how much they cost and when and why the decisions were made.

State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue said she sent Ricketts a letter seeking an explanation. The letter says she’s heard from constituents worried about residents at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans Home.

“We’re being told that medical staff should be vaccinated,” she said. “Why are we choosing to ignore this? So I want answers? My constituents want answers.”

The recruiting push hits as Nebraska is already facing a surge of coronavirus cases because of the more contagious delta variant. Kids have headed back to school, too, including many without masks.

Local medical and public health professionals from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and more have recommended vaccination and masking up indoors as ways to slow the spread of the virus.

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