Liability, cost & shortages: 7 things to know when considering a vaccine mandate

Hundreds of hospitals and health systems have already implemented vaccine mandates, but some hospital leaders are concerned about the aftermath of a controversial mandate. Below are seven things to consider when weighing the effects of a vaccine mandate, according to a Sept. 9 Harvard Business Review article.

Seven things to know:

  1. Hospital leaders are responsible for providing patients and employees a safe environment. When considering a vaccine mandate, leaders should evaluate the risk of the virus spreading in the hospital among patients and staff. Having a vaccine mandate can also increase patients' perceptions of safety when visiting the facility.

  2. During a nationwide shortage of talent, some hospital CEOs said they feared they wouldn't be able to provide services for patients if employees quit due to a mandate. Not having a vaccine mandate has also been used as a competitive advantage when trying to attract talent. 

  3. The more hospitals that have a vaccine mandate, the less likely an employee can depart for a competitor once a mandate is announced. Some hospitals based in the same city have taken the approach to announce mandates at the same time to minimize the backlash and opportunities for workers to leave for a new hospital.

  4. Healthcare talent shortages have been exacerbated by employees contracting COVID-19 and having to quarantine at home. For employees whose conditions worsen and who need to be hospitalized, hospital employers incur medical costs. One estimate said the United States spent $2.5 billion on COVID-19 hospitalizations that could have been prevented with vaccines in June and July, according to the report.

  5. Implementing a vaccine mandate can also be costly, with hospitals having to pay the administrative costs of tracing employees' vaccination status and complying with HIPAA in safeguarding the statuses of employees. Several hospitals have been sued over vaccine mandates, and hospitals could incur legal fees.

  6. Hospitals that offer on-site vaccinations that would be delivered by their own staff should check with their legal counsel to make sure they wouldn't be liable for complications from vaccination. Any employees who are harmed by one of the federally authorized vaccines would be eligible for compensation through workers' compensation, the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program or the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, according to the report.

  7. A mandate could also reduce a hospital's liability in the workplace because the chance that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19 in the workplace is lowered.

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