Letter: Give social workers the vaccine

Published: 1/22/2021 12:01:43 AM

There are a lot of groups vying to get the COVID-19 vaccine. And many of them have a valid claim to get it as soon as possible. I don’t envy the state in having to make these difficult choices.

As a social worker and president of the state chapter of NASW, I am appalled that New Hampshire has not prioritized the child welfare workforce.

Child welfare workers (both child protection and juvenile justice) are first responders. They are called to people’s homes in crisis and emergency situations and do not have the option to do all of their work remotely.

They have responded adeptly during the pandemic and have created a second triage system to assess risk and determine which children and families need in-person home visiting to determine safety. However, they continue to put their lives and health at risk through the jobs they do and should be considered a priority population for the vaccine.

We have already heard about cases where a child who tested positive had to be removed from their home, putting both the child welfare worker and any placement providers (foster parents, residential providers, relatives) at high risk. In addition, there are families who refuse to wear masks, and when child welfare workers are assigned cases, they also have to weigh the risk of harm to the child vs. the harm to themselves if a family is not following CDC guidelines.

I urge the governor to add them to Phase 2 of the rollout.

BECKY PARTON

Henniker




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