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Major Medical Groups Urge Healthcare Employers to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations

A doctors office advertises the Covid-19 vaccine in a neighborhood near Brighton Beach

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Nearly 60 health organizations signed a joint statement calling on employers in health care and long-term care to require COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Vaccines are a critical tool for protecting health workers and patients, health leaders say.
  • The statement comes as cases continue to skyrocket among unvaccinated Americans.

A group of 58 major medical organizations representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers called for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all U.S. health personnel on Monday.

Organizations including the American Medical Association and American Public Health Association said in a joint statement that vaccination among healthcare workers is imperative as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationally.

“We bring, as a collective group, enormous credibility that while certainly each of us can do individually, the power of having over 50 organizations who basically span the whole breadth of the healthcare enterprise, lets people know that their health is what we're is what we care about,” Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association, tells Verywell.

The groups cited the spread of highly contagious variants, including Delta, and the large number of unvaccinated people as the primary causes of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The statement indicated that medical and health leaders are taking an increasingly strong and unified stance on vaccination.

“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 statement said.

What This Means For You

Major health groups say that requiring vaccination for health workers will both protect them and the patients they serve. Health experts say that the FDA-authorized vaccines are the best tool to protect against illness and death from COVID-19.

The Case for Vaccine Requirements

Many healthcare workers remain unvaccinated despite having been eligible for the shot since December. About a quarter of hospital workers who had contact with patients had not been vaccinated by the end of May, according to a WebMD and Medscape Medical News analysis of data from 2,500 hospitals. Just 58.7% of nursing home employees have been fully vaccinated as of July 18, according to the CDC.

In its updated guidance from May, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said vaccine mandates by private employers is legal.

Some other vaccinations, like those that protect against hepatitis B and influenza, are already required for health personnel to protect vulnerable people like unvaccinated children and the immunocompromised. The joint statement today said exemptions should be made for people with identified medical reasons, but that this group represents a small minority of all health workers.

A Quest to Slow Down COVID-19 Spread

Nationally, COVID-19 cases have nearly quadrupled during July, with nearly all cases attributed to unvaccinated people.

“We all thought, a month ago, that we were on a glide path to getting a substantial number of our population vaccinated,” Benjamin says. “All of a sudden, we've now hit a not only a plateau, but it's crashed.”

Benjamin says the vaccines, which he considers to be in the top 10 greatest accomplishments of public health, are a necessary protective tool for both health providers and patients.

Americans seem divided over who should be required to vaccinated. According to a Politico-Harvard poll, 66% of Americans favor health care institutions requiring employees to be immunized while they are split over mandates by employers and for school-going children.

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

Shortly after the release of the joint statement, several authorities issued similar workplace vaccine mandates.

The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require vaccination for front-line doctors, dentists, registered nurses and other patient-facing health workers.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that state employees must verify they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear masks and face regular testing. Similarly, in New York City, all municipal workers must now be vaccinated by mid-September or undergo weekly testing.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Healthcare Safety Network: Nursing Home Vaccination Data Dashboard. Updated July 18, 2021.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Data Tracker. Updated July 23, 2021.