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 move follows the organization's promise, made by its President and Founder Eli Beer last month. Now, as of Thursday, 100 percent of United Hatzalah’s volunteers and staff are fully vaccinated.
Beer issued a statement on Thursday, when the decision was put into effect, saying: “All of the volunteers of United Hatzalah, our EMTs, paramedics, and doctors, who go out and respond to nearly 2,000 medical emergencies per day, bear the responsibility of protecting the health of those whom they treat, as well as their own health and the health of their families.”
“It is for this reason that I gave the instruction to the management of the organization that every last volunteer is required to be vaccinated against the disease. The vast majority of our volunteers understood the importance of this and complied with our request.”
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 from ever having to go through that experience. I don’t want anyone to suffer needlessly due to accidental exposure to the virus. Not our patients, not our volunteers, and not 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 will welcome them back with open arms. In the meantime, I wish them all continued health and success in their future endeavors.”