Head of NJ’s largest nurses union on support for COVID-19 vaccine but not mandate

Interview with HPAE president Debbie White

Few people in the state know better the devastating impact of this pandemic than the nurses who have been on the front lines in hospitals and nursing homes. The state’s largest nurses union wants its members to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others against COVID-19, but it doesn’t support mandating them.

While Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday the state will require either vaccinations or regular testing for health care employees, he is not mandating them as a condition of employment. But several of the state’s large health care systems have said workers must either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face getting fired. HPAE, which represents 14,000 nurses and health care professionals in the state, says these employers must bargain with the union before requiring the vaccines and come to an agreement about the consequences for those who don’t comply. Before the governor’s announcement Monday, we spoke with HPAE president Debbie White.

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