Coalition Of Medical Experts Urges Health Care Facilities to Require COVID-19 Vaccines for Employees

Such a mandate “is especially necessary to protect those who are vulnerable, including unvaccinated children and the immunocompromised,” the coalition said.

Nurse Carlene Fleming administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to patient at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on July 24, 2021. | Getty
Nurse Carlene Fleming administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to patient at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on July 24, 2021. | Getty

A group of more than 50 medical associations and societies is calling on health care employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine for their workers, as cases continue to rise across the country.

“This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being,” the group, which includes the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in a joint statement Monday.

The group cited the surge in cases due to the Delta variant, which makes up for more than 80% of all COVID-19 cases in the country.

As of July 26, nearly 44% of U.S. counties are experiencing a high rate of community transmission. The current surge in cases comes as the country’s vaccination rate is stagnating; 57.4% of people who are eligible to receive the shot in the U.S. have been vaccinated.

The coalition said that vaccination is “the primary way” to move forward from the pandemic and prevent a return to strict public health measures.

“The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it,” the statement read.

25% of hospital workers “who have direct contact with patients” were not vaccinated, even partially, by the end of May, according to an analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 40% of nursing home staff in the U.S. has yet to be vaccinated.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported on the medical groups’ joint statement, approximately 9% of hospitals in the country have issued a vaccine mandate for their employees, and such mandates have caused rifts between health care employers and their workers. Houston Methodist Hospital suspended nearly 180 of its workers who failed to get vaccinated by the hospital’s mandated deadline in June. Some of the hospital’s disgruntled employees even filed a lawsuit that was later dismissed by a federal judge.

Still, Houston Methodist is an example of how vaccine mandates work in practice. According to The Post, 97% of the staff at the hospital has been vaccinated.

Several other large hospital systems, including NewYork-Presbyterian and Arizona’s Banner Health, have announced that they will require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming months.

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that starting in August, the staff of city-run health facilities, of which less than 60% has received the vaccine, will have to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly coronavirus tests. On Monday, Mayor De Blasio expanded the vaccine mandate to include all city workers.

According to recent guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers have the right to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for in-person work. The guidance also said employers can legally mandate proof of vaccination from employees and can provide vaccine incentives.

Hundreds of universities will require students to be vaccinated, and major airlines, including Delta and United, have announced they will only hire vaccinated employees.