In this March 2, 2021, file photo, Hollie Maloney, a pharmacy technician, loads a syringe with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Portland Expo in Portland.  Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Let’s place the responsibility where it belongs in the state health care worker COVID-19 vaccination mandate announced in August and now being enforced: squarely on the shoulders of those workers who stubbornly and foolishly continue to be unvaccinated. The mandate did not cause the current health care worker shortages.

Those doctors, nurses, technicians, or nurse’s aides, etc. who remain unvaccinated are part of the cause of any current health care worker shortages. These unvaccinated individuals may join their former patients in a hospital bed or clinic sick with COVID-19 because they refused to get vaccinated largely, I believe, because of misinformation.

According to an article published in the conservative Wall Street Journal on Sept. 30, “The Delta variant is finding clusters of unvaccinated people even in some of the best vaccinated parts of the country, such as Maine. A Covid-19 surge in the New England state has filled hospitals and put dozens of people on ventilators setting records for the state.” The newspaper quoted Dr. Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer at nonprofit health system MaineHealth (and former Maine CDC director) saying “The Delta variant is so much more contagious that it doesn’t need much kindling to continue to burn.”

I am proud of our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Nov. 7, nearly 80 percent of eligible Mainers have been fully vaccinated.

If you are an out-of-work health care worker, please get the vaccine and get back to work. We need you.

Mac Herrling