Georgia hospital defends vaccination of employees' family members

A Georgia hospital is defending its vaccination procedures after media reports recently surfaced about the state's department of public health reviewing the facility's decision to allow family members of employees to receive COVID-19 shots, regardless of whether they were part of the state's priority groups. 

Floyd Medical Center in Rome defended the situation in a statement shared with Becker's this week, saying it does not believe the vaccinations were inappropriate and halted them about three weeks ago after the state clarified its prioritization guidance.

Floyd Medical Center decided to vaccinate family members of employees in January. At the time of that decision, the hospital said it was focused on limiting absences of Floyd healthcare workers and was facing a surge of COVID-19 patients. 

"We had record numbers of COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and it was important to ensure we had staff to care for those patients in addition to our ongoing patient population," the hospital said in its Feb. 8 statement. 

Georgia's current 1a+ phase for vaccine distribution includes healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, adults age 65 and older and their caregivers and emergency personnel. Media outlets, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reported that the state department of public health was reviewing the hospital's vaccine distribution to people who may not have been included in the state's 1a+ phase.

Floyd Medical Center said it does not believe it vaccinated any family members of healthcare workers inappropriately because of an agreement with the state that allows it to inoculate family members and includes a formula for determining how many family members of healthcare workers can be vaccinated.

Floyd Medical Center has abided by the agreement, which "includes vaccines for staff, volunteers and contracted staff, and again family members of staff," the hospital said. "However, when the state clarified and indicated that they were insisting on strict adherence to the Tier 1A+ guidelines three weeks ago, we immediately came into compliance with that clarification."

Floyd Medical Center said the only family members still being vaccinated are the ones getting their second doses. Anna Adams, senior vice president of government relations at the Georgia Hospital Association, told Becker's the hospital is continuing to vaccinate community members who are eligible under current vaccine phase criteria.

The state department of public health did not provide an update or comment to Becker's about the matter.  


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