PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The clock is ticking for Oregon’s state workers to either get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.
Governor Kate Brown’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is getting push back from all different kinds of employees — with some even going to court. Some local governments are now worrying the battle over a vaccine could have unintended consequences for public safety.
Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer is concerned his small community on Oregon’s north coast could suffer if some of their volunteer fire department has to abide by this mandate.
Of his city’s firefighting and EMT staff, the majority are volunteers, he explained on KOIN AM Extra, and 15 are currently unvaccinated, with 13 saying they will refuse to be vaccinated, including the majority of the city’s EMS-trained crews.
“If they leave, that would leave our city with single digits to respond to the 17th largest city by square mileage, plus a rural fire district up to Gearhart … for EMS services, and I am greatly concerned with unintended consequences for people who need quick EMS responses and won’t be able to get it,” Balensifer said.
He said he wishes since volunteers “respond of their own free wills,” that the city would be able to accommodate exemptions for the vaccine mandate.
“We have had zero COVID cases related to responding to COVID cases or just responding to any call in the community within the fire department — both the transmitting to a person or to the responder, zero, and that’s because we use (personal protective equipment) and the PPE works with protocols in place,” Balensifer continued.
Watch his full AM Extra interview in the video above.