More healthcare systems are only taking “yes” for an answer when it comes to their employees receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In turn, hundreds of employees are resigning or being dismissed because they refuse to take the shot. For instance, in late June, more than 150 employees of Houston Methodist Hospital lost their jobs because they did not comply with the hospital’s vaccine mandate.1

While it may be hard to understand why a person at higher risk for contracting the virus might take issue with this requirement, the idea of mandating the vaccine as a condition of employment is simply too strong a push for some. However, a coalition of healthcare organizations is calling on all medical facilities to mandate the vaccines.

The group, which includes the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), and five other medical groups, contends vaccine mandates are needed to end the pandemic.

In a statement issued by the coalition, David J. Weber, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FSHEA, a member of the SHEA Board of Trustees, noted the COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective.

“By requiring vaccination as a condition of employment, we raise levels of vaccination for healthcare personnel, improve protection of our patients, and aid in reaching community protection,” Weber said. “As healthcare personnel, we’re committed to these goals.”

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is not a member of the coalition, and the group takes no position on mandates, but the organization strongly encourages its members to take the vaccine.

“Emergency physicians are critical voices in the effort to encourage every eligible person to get the vaccine,” notes Arvind Venkat, MD, FACEP, an ACEP board member and the vice chair for research and faculty academic affairs in the department of emergency medicine at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh. “Emergency physicians all over the country are taking steps to share information and increase the number of people who are vaccinated.”

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), also not a member of the coalition, takes a similar tack to ACEP when asked about vaccine mandates.

“From our standpoint, we just highly encourage our members to follow the evidence, speak, and be a good role model for the patients they care for in the community they live in,” says ENA President Ron Kraus, MSN, RN, EMT, CEN, ACNS-BC, TCRN. “For 19 years in a row now, nurses have been the most trusted profession. We have a social obligation to be that voice for the evidence, and to refute any false narrative out there — not only to our patients, but to our family members, our community, and our neighbors that we serve.”

Kraus added emergency nurses are obligated to be “in the know” and to be able to answer any questions patients may ask so everyone can be vaccinated.

REFERENCES

  1. Diamond D. 153 people resigned or were fired from a Texas hospital system after refusing to get vaccinated. The Washington Post, June 22, 2021.
  2. Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. National organizations in epidemiology and infection prevention say COVID-19 vaccines should be required for healthcare personnel. July 13, 2021.