By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The Department of Health Services demanded employees push Gov. Tony Evers’ $100 COVID-19 vaccination incentive on the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, according to a DHS source with knowledge of the situation.
“These are patients who are mentally ill, developmentally disabled and some are minors. Many are not competent to make decisions on medications and many are very paranoid as this is a symptom of their illness,” the DHS employee, who asked not to be identified, wrote in an email. The source included a flier placed around the facility promoting Evers $100 “REWARD” to all those who got their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Labor Day.
The employee first contacted conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna with concerns about the health agency’s activities.
A DHS official did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment.
“This seems so wrong on so many levels, first off being a bribe in the form of tax payer money to give people $100 to get the vaccine,” the DHS employee said. “Second, taking advantage of the mentally and developmentally disabled by offering them money, which is enticing to this population to take the shot they are otherwise fearful to take.”
As local and state governments and businesses issue or contemplate COVID-19 vaccine mandates, questions and concerns are growing about the line between public safety and civil liberties. Compulsory vaccinations aren’t merely a threat.
As the Gotham Gazette reports:
The New York State Office of Mental Health quietly issued guidance in April allowing psychiatric centers to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 over patient objections and without a court order in an unusual break from treatment protocols.
The policy makes psychiatric patients in state custody one of the only adult populations in New York subject to forcible vaccination.
The guidance, issued April 22, is a “clarification” giving hospital staff discretion to administer the vaccine without consent, an intrusive action clinical staff and lawyers working with patients say is unnecessary and alarming. It came more than four months after people living in state-run inpatient facilities became eligible for the vaccine and despite uptake being roughly equivalent to the statewide adult vaccination rate.
James Plastiras of the New York State Office of Mental Health tells Empower Wisconsin OMH has not vaccinated anyone over objection.
“The guidance you’re referring to was revised with the attached in June, clarifying that the policy does not apply to patients who object to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. It further states that OMH facilities should not administer the COVID-19 vaccine over a patient’s objection and should not seek administrative or court authorization for treatment over objection for COVID-19 vaccinations,” the mental health professional wrote in an email.
There are currently no orders or recommendations on compulsory vaccinations of mental health patients in Wisconsin, according Mary Kay Battaglia, executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Wisconsin.
“There are a couple of hospitals requesting employees get vaccinated but not patients to have the vaccination,” she said