The CHU sacks several employees because of false vaccination cards
The university hospital fired several employees for submitting fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in response to the Newark facility’s requirement that its staff be vaccinated, according to a report.
The hospital, New Jersey’s only public acute care facility, became the first in the state to mandate vaccination for all of its employees, who risked dismissal if they refused. The requirement announced in June allowed for exemptions based on medical or religious reasons.
In an interview last month, Dr Shereef Elnahal, chief executive of the hospital, said more than 90% of the university’s approximately 3,700 employees were vaccinated. Before the mandate, just over half had been vaccinated. The hospital also held a vaccine lottery to entice its staff, and four employees won $ 2,500 each.
It is still unclear how the sacked workers obtained the forged documents, as well as what their specific duties at the hospital were.
“We took a critical look at the cards and saw some notable differences between how the cards looked and how the real cards looked. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] the cards looked, ”Elnahal said in a video broadcast on NJSpotlight.com. Fortunately, we were able to detect these cases. It makes everyone less safe if people are dishonest about their immunization status. “
Asked to comment on the reported layoffs, the University Hospital told NJ Advance Media in an email: “On June 21, the University Hospital announced a policy imposing the COVID-19 vaccine on all employees. We continued to review all necessary staff actions, including discipline and / or termination, in accordance with our HR policies and procedures. “
He declined to deal specifically with the reported layoffs.
While there appears to be no connection, the news of the University Hospital layoffs matched New York prosecutors’ announcement of charges against Jasmine Clifford of Lyndhurst, for allegedly selling 250 fake vaccination cards through his Instagram account “AntiVaxMomma”. Clifford allegedly had a co-conspirator in the scam, Nadayza Barkley, a New Yorker woman who entered names into that state’s vaccine database while working at a medical clinic, officials said.
Some of the buyers included people who worked in hospitals and nursing homes, prosecutors said. Thirteen people have been accused of buying fake cards, they added.
“It doesn’t appear that any of the defendants in our case are from New Jersey,” said Casey Murphy, press secretary for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Two weeks ago, Elnahal noted on his LinkedIn page: “Well over 90% of employees who come to campus are now vaccinated. The rest have medical or religious exemptions, with only a handful of disciplinary actions after our 8/3 due date. “
“The denominator here does NOT include doctors, residents or students because they are technically not employees of the HU (our% vax would be much higher if that was the case),” Elnahal said. “Second, dozens of employees chose to be vaccinated after the first disciplinary action, but the disciplinary action itself was NOT the main driver of our significant uptick in adoption – we went from 55% 93% vaccinated within 5 weeks of the announcement of the mandate, but before the expiry date.
A table accompanying his post showed that 3,308 employees were vaccinated, 182 received a religious exemption, 46 received a medical exemption and 23 were listed as “unvaccinated.”
In her post, Elnahal described a concerted effort to persuade reluctant employees to get the jab.
He said he had “a half-dozen meals that I personally ate with unvaccinated employees to listen, educate, and approach reluctance with compassion rather than disdain.”
“It worked – after such a lunch, more than half of the employees I spoke with were vaccinated within a week after many of them told me they were ready to quit.”
In early August, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order requiring all workers in public and private healthcare facilities to be fully immunized against COVID-19 by September 7 or undergo weekly testing for the virus.
It came more than a month after Elnahal told NJ Advance Media that it is especially imperative that those working in medical settings get vaccinated.
“I cannot accept the risk that we are supposed to take care of the most vulnerable people in our community,” he said. “I cannot accept the risk that we will continue to transmit this deadly disease to ourselves or to our community. “
The pressure to get a full vaccine has intensified as the number of people infected with COVID-19 – especially the delta variant – is on the rise.
Vaccination warrants as a condition of employment – and for the services of some companies – have become a source of controversy among those who call it an infringement of their liberty.
The reluctance to be vaccinated has created a black market for cards intended to serve as proof of having obtained the vaccines. The FBI warns that buying, selling or using a counterfeit vaccination card is a felony that could lead to fines and jail time.
In mid-August, US customs and border patrol officials reported seizing 121 packages from China containing more than 3,000 counterfeit vaccination cards.
Last month, a Chicago pharmacist was accused of stealing dozens of genuine vaccination cards and selling them on eBay, according to the US Department of Justice. Pharmacist Tangtang Zhao faces 12 counts of theft of government property, officials said. If found guilty, he faces a 10-year prison sentence per count. He pleaded not guilty.
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Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at [email protected]