OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – The U.S. has been experiencing a shortage of nurses. The state of Nebraska is trying to bring more in, but with a very different message from some of the state’s leading health care providers: A COVID-19 vaccination is not required.
Advertisements are popping up from the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services. In big bold letters, the incentives: No vaccine requirements and a $5,000 signing bonus.
A spokesperson for Gov. Pete Ricketts said the nursing positions are for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The ad caught the attention of State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue. It says that while vaccines are not required they are encouraged.
“It’s a bit concerning that we don’t have our veterans’ health as part of our best interest,” Blood said.
There are numerous openings at veterans’ homes across the state, including the Eastern Nebraska Veterans Home in Bellevue.
Leaders tell 6 News a large majority of the staff is vaccinated.
“If you are just relying on only the vaccine, think you don’t understand what we’ve been going through for the last 18 months. You can be fully vaccinated and still spread COVID-19. The key is effective screening measures and effective testing measures,” said John Hilgert, Director of the Dept. of Veteran Affairs
There are measures in place at the state’s veterans homes, including testing every 48 hours for unvaccinated workers.
Blood says the lack of a vaccine mandate concerns her, and she wants the governor to explain why.
“Unless someone can show me that the information and the science that has been shared with us as state senators is wrong, I tend to say that we have grave concerns in district 3 and I want to know how that decision was made,” said Sen. Blood.
She said she doesn’t understand why the state is going against what top epidemiologists recommend.
“I feel like we are in a problem that we created ourselves, and now we are using bizarre marketing tools like saying that ‘Come on down if you are not vaccinated, and we will hire you’ while everybody around us is doing the opposite, based on science,” Blood said.
Nebraska’s Veteran Affairs department says it’s going above and beyond to make sure veterans are safe.
“We’ve learned a lot, so I am comfortable and confident that our veterans are being well cared for,” Hilgert said.
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