While one of the Southern Tier’s representatives to Albany says they are fully vaccinated, they’ve sent a letter to the governor and health commissioner pushing back at a mandate that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs.

NYS Senator Fred Akshar (R: Binghamton) official photo

State Senator Fred Akshar says he “wholeheartedly” supports the Health Department’s mission to stop the spread of the virus but says in his letter “the vaccine should be a personal choice”.  The Republican tells Governor Kathy Hochul and Health Commissioner, Doctor Howard Zucker: “you’re grossly underestimating how many people are willing to walk away from their careers on September 27.” 

Broome County Executive, Democrat, Jason Garnar has said he’s concerned about losing nursing and other staff at the privately-run hospitals and the county-owned Willow Point Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which are already understaffed.

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Akshar says United Health Services reports 20 percent of its staff is not vaccinated and a loss of even five percent could mean shutting down a psychiatric inpatient unit and reducing services.  Akshar, who is running for Broome County Sheriff, is calling on the Health Department to give healthcare employers what he called “a reasonable and practical testing alternative for unvaccinated workers.”

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