BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Western New York doctor who mandated the vaccine in January for his employees was one of the first in the area to do so.
Dr. Raul Vazquez of Urban Family Practice in Buffalo says it was the best decision for his staff.
“We could have been the source of spreading this infection,” he said.
Vaccine mandates are nothing new for Dr. Vazquez and his staff, but this week, as of Monday healthcare workers in the state were mandated to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or they are automatically placed on unpaid leave.
“I can’t have you go in front of a patient and you give them the shot if you don’t believe what you’re doing,” he said.
He says that was the only way to make sure his staff was safe and protected the community it serves. Dr. Vazquez says he did it through building trust.
“We explained things to people. That’s how we were able to get people vaccinated within the system,” he said.
At last check, Kaleida Health says its vaccination rate of its workforce is 94% and its patient-facing staff is 97%. Catholic Health says its staff is 90% vaccinatied.
Dr. Vazquez believes this should have been done a long time ago.
“When you’re within those four walls, you see what’s coming in,” he said of COVID cases in hospitals.
Leticia Russi works for Dr. Vazquez in the finance department. She was one of the first to get the vaccine.
“If it weren’t for him, I would have had to wait,” she said.
Russi says healthcare isn’t just about those who interact with patients on a day-to-day basis but staff also includes many other aspects like IT and finance. She says she was beyond grateful when Dr. Vazquez mandated the vaccine.
“It meant a lot of things for me and my family,” she said.
Dr. Vazquez says his practice has vaccinated 11,000 people in the Western New York area.