Medical Groups Call for Vaccine Requirements for Health Care Workers
A group of nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, called on Monday for mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers. As the highly contagious Delta variant leads to a new wave of coronavirus cases, vaccination is an ethical obligation for healthcare workers, the groups said in a joint statement.
“Due to the recent wave of Covid-19 and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, our healthcare organizations and companies advocate that all healthcare and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, ”the press release said. . “This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all healthcare workers to put patients and residents of long-term care facilities first and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure their health and safety. their well-being. “
The statement was signed by a wide range of professional associations, including those representing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and infectious disease experts.
In recent weeks, more hospitals and health systems have announced that they will start requiring all employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the mandates are legal and many hospitals already require employees to get their flu shots.
“Healthcare organizations rarely agree on anything, but it’s something where they speak with one voice and unanimously,” said Dr Ezekiel Emanuel, oncologist and bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, which organized the joint statement. “I think this speaks to the wide recognition that this is the right thing to do for this country.”
Although many health workers have been eligible for vaccination since December, when the first vaccines were authorized, a significant number remain unvaccinated. In New York City, for example, about 1 in 4 hospital workers have yet to be vaccinated, according to state data. Nationally, only 58.7% of nursing home workers have been fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some healthcare workers opposed the vaccine requirements. A small group of employees sued the Houston Methodist Hospital for their tenure. The lawsuit was dismissed last month and more than 150 hospital workers were fired or resigned over their refusal to be vaccinated.
Some employers have been hesitant to require the vaccines, which currently have emergency use approval, until they receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This approval is expected, but could be in months.
Dr Emanuel said some hospitals and health care organizations were using the lack of full approval as an excuse to postpone vaccination mandates. The joint statement noted that Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to be both safe and effective.
“With over 300 million doses administered in the United States and nearly 4 billion doses administered worldwide, we know that vaccines are safe and very effective in preventing serious illness and death from Covid-19,” said Dr Susan R. Bailey, the immediate past president of WADA, said in a statement.
The joint statement says exceptions could be made for the small subset of employees who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
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