Nurses Plead With County Officials To Stand Up For Them Against Vaccine Mandates

Aaron Billquist speaks at the Chautauqua County Legislature meeting, asking for county officials to intervene as many nurses look to lose their jobs if they’re not vaccinated. P-J Photo by Gregory Bacon

MAYVILLE — Kelly Lisciandro has been a registered nurse for 21 years. For the last 12 years she has been going into people’s homes in Chautauqua County as a homecare nurse.

She is concerned that come Monday she will lose her job because of the vaccination requirement against COVID-19. She spoke at the Chautauqua County Legislature meeting this past week, asking county officials to intervene.

“I just want the choice to decide whether I want this vaccine,” she said. “I want to be able to work and take care of people. That is what I love and that is what I always wanted to do but you are making this impossible. I want someone to stand up for us.”

For more than an hour, county officials heard from the public, many of whom were nurses. Some admitted they hadn’t been vaccinated, while others said they were lobbying for their co-workers.

Falconer resident Aaron Billquist, a registered nurse himself, believes they know what is best for themselves. “As healthcare workers, there aren’t many of us who would consider ourselves ‘anti-vaxxers.’ We generally understand that there are diseases that are better maintained with vaccines, such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, etc. The majority of those illnesses can be avoided with a couple vaccines that offer lengthy immunity. Illnesses like covid, influenza, and RSV are very difficult to eradicate due to their mutation and transmission rates. Even though the current COVID vaccines are good at decreasing your risk of being hospitalized, they are not fool-proof. You can still be infected, hospitalized and transmit the disease. The length of immunity offered from them lasts at most eight months. Regardless of the number of booster shots offered, we, the world, will never be rid of COVID. It will become a seasonal illness such as influenza. Something that we must learn to deal with as a society, free of shutdowns and forced vaccines,” he said.

Shaina Reynolds says she will no longer be able to support her family financially due to the requirement for nurses to be vaccinated against COVID-19. P-J Photo by Gregory Bacon

Billquist believes healthcare can’t lose any more staff.

“We are going to get to a point where (Emergency Rooms) are not going to be able to handle the workload that we’re going to have. People are going to be dying and we can’t let this happen,” he said.

While the majority of county legislators did not speak, County Executive PJ Wendel took to the floor to address some of their concerns. He noted that county officials, many of whom are executives, meet virtually with state representatives, and this is one of the issues they have debated.

“The strongest opposition in those control rooms has been my voice. I have fought, as (Gov.) Kathy Hochul will tell you,” he said.

When Wendel found out two weeks ago this state mandate was coming down regarding nurses, he said he immediately requested a meeting with Hochul, on behalf of all county executives.

“I will continue to fight to get in her ear and tell her this is not the right thing to do. That’s the best I can do and I will continue,” he said, as applause broke out.

Shaina Reynolds of Lakewood thanked Wendel for fighting on their behalf. She was the school nurse at Bemus Point Elementary School, but resigned earlier this year, saying she opposes requiring masks for children.

“I just ask you to continue to fight. Thank you for fighting. Please, just think of the people in your community. We’re asking you to fight for us. This is not something that we want. We want to have our freedoms and have a choice,” she said.


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