Hospitals and other healthcare facilities should require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a consensus statement by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and six other leading organizations representing medical professionals working in infectious diseases, infection prevention, pharmacy, pediatrics, and long-term care. The paper specifies exemption for those with medical contraindications and some other circumstances in compliance with federal and state laws.
“The COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective,” said David J. Weber, a member of the SHEA Board of Trustees and lead author of the statement. “By requiring vaccination as a condition of employment we raise levels of vaccination for healthcare personnel, improve the protection of our patients, and aid in reaching community protection. As healthcare personnel, we’re committed to these goals.”
SHEA convened a multiorganizational panel of experts in infectious disease prevention, law, and human resources, with representatives from AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP). The panel conducted an eight-week review of evidence on the three vaccines authorized for use in the United States, vaccination rates, and employment law to develop the statement.
Research shows that prior to the pandemic, rates of routine vaccinations among healthcare providers were suboptimal. For flu vaccination, when healthcare employers instituted policies of influenza vaccination as a condition of employment, compliance rose to 94.4 percent compared to 69.6 percent in organizations without a requirement.
Over 33 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and more than 600,000 have died. The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States have been found safe and effective in preventing infection and reducing transmission. Studies have demonstrated that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the US also protect against variants, and are particularly effective against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Despite the positive data, there are still many healthcare professionals who have declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Vaccinating the healthcare workforce reduces the risk of transmission by protecting patients, healthcare personnel, and communities, and maintains trust in healthcare providers and healthcare institutions,” Weber said.
The statement explains what to consider in developing a policy of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, including a thorough overview of current vaccines’ safety and efficacy, legal considerations, ways to engage stakeholders and improve vaccination rates before implementing a policy of vaccination as a condition of employment, and advantages to having a fully vaccinated workforce.
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is a professional society representing more than 2,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. The society’s work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship, and advancing the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA and its members strive to improve patient outcomes and create a safer, healthier future for all. Visit SHEA online at www.shea-online.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. The Society’s 5,500 members work in skilled nursing facilities, long-term care and assisted living communities, CCRCs, home care, hospice, PACE programs, and other settings. Visit us at https://paltc.org.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is creating a safer world through the prevention of infection. APIC’s nearly 16,000 members develop and direct infection prevention and control programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for healthcare facilities. APIC advances its mission through patient safety, education, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy, and data standardization. Visit us at apic.org.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is a leader on issues of importance to ID professionals, including education and training, policy and advocacy, setting guidelines for patient care, and developing resources for clinical practice. It remains at the forefront of global health issues such as antimicrobial resistance and HIV/AIDS. More than 12,000 IDSA and HIVMA members work across the United States and in nearly 100 other countries on six different continents. For more information visit www.idsociety.org. Follow IDSA on Facebook and Twitter.
The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) is an affiliate of IDSA and is a community of more than 5,000 health care professionals who focus on HIV prevention, care and research. Its purpose is to advance a comprehensive and humane response to the HIV pandemic, informed by science and social justice.
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS) is the world’s largest organization of professionals dedicated to the treatment, control, and eradication of infectious diseases affecting children. Membership is comprised of physicians, doctoral-level scientists, and others who have trained or are in training in infectious diseases or its related disciplines, and who are identified with the discipline of pediatric infectious diseases or related disciplines through clinical practice, research, teaching, and/or administration activities. For more information, visit www.pids.org.
The Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) is an association of pharmacists and other allied health care professionals. We are committed to promoting the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents and supporting practice, teaching and research in infectious diseases. Visit us at www.sidp.org.
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