Medical groups’ calls for COVID-19 vaccination mandates for health care workers reached a fever pitch on Monday, with the American Medical Association (AMA), American Nurses Association, and 55 other organizations joining the chorus supporting mandatory vaccination.
“It is critical that all people in the health care workforce get vaccinated against COVID-19 for the safety of our patients and our colleagues,” said Susan R. Bailey, MD, immediate past president of the AMA, in a statement. “Increased vaccinations among health care personnel will not only reduce the spread of COVID-19 but also reduce the harmful toll this virus is taking within the health care workforce and those we are striving to serve.”
The joint statement was unequivocal: “We call for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” it said in a single paragraph in bold and italicized font.
“Unfortunately, many health care and long-term personnel remain unvaccinated,” the statement said, describing COVID-19 vaccination as an “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.”
Previously, the American Hospital Association was the largest health care organization to urge mandatory vaccination for health care workers. Infection prevention organizations, including the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, previously released a consensus statement recommending mandatory vaccination as a condition of employment, on July 13, and joined in on this statement as well.
Primary care groups, such as the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, joined a wide array of medical specialty organizations in co-signing the letter, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, and American Society of Clinical Oncology all backed the statement.
“Universal vaccination of health care workers is the single most important step health care institutions can do to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is essential for protecting the health of their workers, the safety of their patients, and ultimately the health of their communities,” Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, which also co-signed, said in a statement.
The organizations cited the growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, as well as the highly contagious Delta variant among their reasons for requiring vaccination.
The statement noted that some workers will not be able to be vaccinated due to “identified medical reasons” and should be exempted, though they represent a minority of workers. They added that “employers should consider any applicable state laws on a case-by-case basis.”
“Existing COVID-19 vaccine mandates have proven effective,” the groups stated. “As the health care community leads the way in requiring vaccines for our employees, we hope all other employers across the country will follow our lead and implement effective policies to ensure vaccination.”
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