United Hatzalah, Israel’s largest all-volunteer EMS provider, has ceased the operations of 288 of its 6,000 volunteers due to their preference to not receive the Coronavirus vaccine.
The organization was following through on the promise made by its president and founder Eli Beer last month, resulting in 100% of its volunteers and staff being fully vaccinated.
Beer issued a statement on Thursday when the decision was put into effect, saying: “All the volunteers of United Hatzalah, our EMTs, paramedics, and doctors who go out and respond to nearly 2,000 medical emergencies a day, bear a responsibility to protect the health of those they treat, as well as their health and the health of their families.”
“It is for this reason that I instructed the management of the organization that every last volunteer be required to get vaccinated. The vast majority of our volunteers understood the importance of this and complied with our request,” he said.
Beer added, “I personally suffered from this disease. I was hospitalized one year ago almost to the day and I almost lost my life. I said goodbye to my family and my chances of survival were very slim. I want to prevent anyone ever having to go through that experience. I don’t want anyone to suffer needlessly due to accidental exposure to the virus—neither our patients nor our volunteers nor their families.”
“I love each and every one of the volunteers who give of themselves and their time to help others and save lives. It causes me great pain to say goodbye to some of our volunteers, who for personal reasons have chosen not to receive the vaccine. They will now be departing our organization and our family, but their lives and the lives of the patients whom we serve are more important. Should any of these volunteers change their mind and elect to receive the vaccine, or should this virus disappear completely, we would welcome them back with open arms. In the meantime, I wish them all continued health and success in their future endeavors,” Beer concluded.