Health care coalition calls for COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment
Columbia, MD — Seven health care organizations are calling on hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities to mandate COVID-19 vaccination among personnel.
In a recent consensus statement, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA), and the other organizations state that “prior experience and current information suggest that a sufficient vaccination rate is unlikely to be achieved without making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment.”
The statement highlights numerous benefits of vaccination, including:
- Individual protection against COVID-19
- Additional protection for patients and health care personnel who are unable to receive a vaccine or “mount an adequate immune response”
- Reduced risk of asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – between personnel, and from personnel to patients or vice versa
- Reduced risk of household or community transmission
- Increased protection for health care workers in community settings
“The COVID-19 vaccines appear to retain good effectiveness against currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants against symptomatic illness and even higher effectiveness against severe disease,” the statement reads.
The organizations recommend health care facilities “provide an inclusive and transparent process” that includes feedback from workers and industry stakeholders to determine whether to require vaccination as a condition of employment. Should such a policy not be feasible, the statement calls on senior leadership to endorse vaccine coverage and facility management to properly educate workers about the vaccines.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 60.5% of nursing home staff at 10,569 reporting facilities nationwide were fully vaccinated as of Aug. 1. Another 1.9% of staff were partially vaccinated.
In February, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living set a goal of 75% vaccination among U.S. nursing home staff by June 30. In a statement issued on the deadline day, AHCA/NCAL Chief Medical Officer David Gifford acknowledged the shortcoming, stating that “more work needs to be done” despite “significant progress toward increasing the number of nursing home staff who are vaccinated.”
AMDA Executive Director Christopher Laxton agrees.
“Unfortunately, many health care workers have still not taken the COVID-19 vaccination, which puts them and their patients at significant risk,” Laxton said in a press release. “After other measures to improve vaccine uptake have not been effective, requiring vaccinations for all employees is the best way to ensure that everyone eligible will receive them in a timely manner.”