Nebraska state job ad touts lack of vaccine requirement

Aug 24, 2021, 3:26 PM | Updated: 4:15 pm

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s veterans affairs agency is facing questions from a state lawmaker after it published job advertisements for nurses touting the fact that the state doesn’t require its employees to get coronavirus vaccinations.

The ads on a state jobs website prominently note the lack of vaccination requirements for state employees, right after mentioning a $5,000 hiring bonus. In a separate mail advertisement, the state lists “No mandated COVID-19 vaccination” as one of the “many great benefits” of its nursing jobs.

State Sen. Carol Blood, of Bellevue, said she inquired about the ad after constituents with loved ones in Nebraska’s state-run veterans homes brought it to her attention. Blood said she understands that the state faces a chronic nursing shortage but was concerned because many veterans’ home residents are elderly and sick.

“It almost appears as if we saw this as an opportunity to scoop up people who don’t want to be vaccinated,” said Blood, whose district includes the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home. “I don’t know if that’s a really good strategy.”

The listings were posted shortly before Nebraska’s largest hospital systems jointly announced that they will require their employees to get vaccinated.

The coalition includes Boys Town, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, Bryan Health, Methodist, CHI Health, Midwest Surgical Hospital, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine. Several have reopened wards to cope with a surge in largely unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

“I think we’re approaching a public health crisis,” said Dr. John Trapp, chief medical officer at Bryan Health.

The ads also come less than a year after the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs’ director, John Hilgert, disclosed his own struggles with the virus and implored people to take it seriously. Hilgert’s boss, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, has repeatedly urged residents to get vaccinated but refused to require it statewide or to require masks, despite pleas from some public health officials.

In a statement, a department spokesman pointed to virus safety measures that are in place in all four of its facilities, including mandatory weekly testing for vaccinated workers and testing every other day for those who aren’t.

Masks are also required for staff when they’re working with residents, visitors or other employees. Face shields or eye protection is required if county transmission rates are considered “high,” with 100 or more new cases per 100,000 people in a week or 10% positive tests in that time window.

Additionally, unvaccinated staff members are required to quarantine if they’re exposed to the virus. All workers must also complete a screening and temperature reading any time they enter a facility.

“Serving the veterans and their family members in our homes is our mission, and we take their safety and care very seriously,” said department spokesman Holden Armstrong.

Blood, a potential Democratic candidate for governor who has focused heavily on veterans’ issues in the Legislature, said she’d like to see the state fill nursing jobs in other ways, such as raising pay or possibly offering assistance to medical professionals with student loan debt.

“I’m deeply concerned about the message this gives to our veterans’ families,” she said. “They want to believe their loved ones are in a safe place, and I don’t think they feel that way right now.”


Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a s...
Associated Press

UN experts: North Korean hackers stole record virtual assets

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korean hackers working for the government stole record-breaking virtual assets last year estimated to be worth between $630 million and more than $1 billion, U.N. experts said in a new report. The panel of experts said in the wide-ranging report seen Tuesday by The Associated Press that the hackers used […]
23 hours ago
President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress, at the C...
Associated Press

Transcript: Biden’s second State of the Union address

Transcript of President Joe Biden’s second State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery and as provided by the White House: Mr. Speaker. Madam Vice President. Our First Lady and Second Gentleman. Members of Congress and the Cabinet. Leaders of our military. Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices, and retired Justices of the Supreme Court. […]
23 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on ...
Associated Press

President Joe Biden in State of Union attempts to reassure condition of nation

President Joe Biden called on Republicans in his State of the Union speech to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy.
23 hours ago
FILE - A CSX freight train sits on a siding in downtown Pittsburgh, Nov. 19, 2022. Several thousand...
Associated Press

In a first, some CSX railroad workers to get paid sick leave

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Several thousand workers at CSX will soon get one of the things that pushed the U.S. railroad industry to the brink of a strike last fall: paid sick time. CSX announced a deal Tuesday with two of its 12 unions, becoming the first major railroad to offer that benefit that most […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Trudeau says Canadian health care isn’t living up to promise

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that Canada’s health care system isn’t living up to its promise, and he plans to add billions more in funding. Trudeau said wait times in emergency departments have become dangerously long, people are waiting too long for essential surgeries and millions of Canadians are without […]
23 hours ago
Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch, presents legislation that would transfer ownership of the water ...
Associated Press

Jackson water system a step closer to getting new owners

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Jackson’s troubled water system could be one step closer to getting new owners after legislation passed the state Senate Tuesday. It’s the latest development in a crisis that has left residents of Mississippi’s capital without consistent access to running water and has aggravated divisions between the Democratic-led city and the Republican-controlled […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Nebraska state job ad touts lack of vaccine requirement