Healthcare trade organizations have called for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all U.S. hospital and long-term care workers, citing the uptick in cases caused by the delta variant.
“All health care workers should get vaccinated for their own health, and to protect their colleagues, families, residents of long-term care facilities and patients. This is especially necessary to protect those who are vulnerable, including unvaccinated children and the immunocompromised,” groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, as well as 54 others, wrote in a joint statement obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The joint effort among major healthcare trade groups reflects frustration about lagging vaccination rates in pockets around the United States, especially in the Deep South. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have each fully vaccinated less than 37% of their populations, according to an analysis from Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases tied to the highly contagious delta variant have increased by about 170% over the past two weeks, while deaths are up 20%, the New York Times reported. Hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks, primarily among people who have not been vaccinated, though admissions have not come close to peak levels at the start of this year. Still, about 1 in 4 hospital workers had not gotten vaccinated by the end of May, according to a WebMD analysis of hospital data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Lower-than-desired vaccine uptake among healthcare providers is especially troubling for nursing homes and long-term care facilities, imperiling the health of the most vulnerable populations. About 56% of healthcare staff in nursing homes nationwide have been fully vaccinated, the AARP concluded, but that figure can vary by state. For instance, roughly 41% of Louisiana nursing home workers have been vaccinated, compared to more than 80% in Hawaii.
“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 Dr. Susan Bailey, former president of the AMA. “With more than 300 million doses administered in the United States and nearly 4 billion doses administered worldwide we know the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19.”
Pressure for mandatory vaccines comes amid reports of providers being let go for refusing to be vaccinated. For instance, six employees at RWJBarnabas Health, one of New Jersey’s largest hospital systems, lost their jobs last week when they declined to get the shots by the June 30 hospital deadline.
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Cassidy Morrison