All unvaccinated volunteers at the United Hatzalah emergency response organization who have not had and recovered from Covid-19 will be suspended indefinitely by March 7, as the organization works to be the first national one to be 100% vaccinated, United Hatzalah announced on Wednesday.
Eli Beer, founder and president of the organization, instructed all chapter heads to ensure that all volunteers are vaccinated or are recovered coronavirus patients by March 7. Volunteers who decide not to receive the vaccine will be suspended, and, after a grace period, completely removed from United Hatzalah.
“I don’t see this as controversial. I see it as our duty in saving lives. As medical personnel and first responders, we are at risk, and we can endanger others if we aren't vaccinated," said Beer."We’ve had a number of volunteers in the past contract the virus because they responded to an emergency prior to the vaccines being available and in spite of the precautions they took," he said. "I don’t want any of our volunteers getting sick, or their families getting sick. God forbid I don’t want any of our volunteers passing the virus on to a patient either.”
Nearly 90% of United Hatzalah's over 6,000 volunteers have already received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Those who are unable to receive the vaccine due to medical reasons, such as pregnant women in their first trimester, will need to submit a request to United Hatzalah's medical department for a special temporary exemption. Those who receive the exemption will only be allowed to respond to emergencies in which the risk of contracting the virus is low.
Beer himself spent nearly a month during March and April of last year recovering from coronavirus in a Miami hospital, after becoming seriously ill and being forced into a coronavirus induced coma. He spent nearly two weeks intubated, after contracting the disease while on a fundraising trip for his organization.