30% of US hospitals mandate vaccination for employment

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In 4 1/2 months, the number of U.S. hospitals mandating COVID-19 vaccination for their workforce has gone from zero to 1,850.

That is the total estimate as of Aug. 13, per the American Hospital Association, which based its count out of 6,090 U.S. hospitals and on publicly available information. Becker's is reporting vaccination requirements as they are released from hospitals, health systems, hospital associations, cities and states in a list updated several times a day.

Houston Methodist was the first health system to mandate vaccination for its workforce, issuing its policy March 31. Large and prominent systems have since followed suit, including St. Louis-based Ascension, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, Chicago-based CommonSpirit and Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health. Those five systems alone reflect approximately 8 percent of the nation's hospitals. 

Cities and states have also enacted policies, covering hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees in a single decision. Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey have implemented vaccination requirements for healthcare workers. (The count of 1,850 hospitals includes those affected by state-level mandates as of Aug. 13, according to the AHA. If New York's hospitals are counted per its state-level policy unveiled Aug. 17, the tally moves to 2,064, or 33.8 percent of U.S. hospitals.)

Some reputable healthcare institutions have held back on mandates for vaccination, including Cleveland Clinic, Pittsburgh-based UPMC and Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine. 

Notably, for-profit systems are also refraining from mandates for their workforce as of Aug. 17. A handful of for-profit systems hold a large number of hospitals, meaning mandates out of these organizations would immediately move the tally of hospitals requiring mandates significantly higher. Combined, Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA, Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems and Dallas-based Tenet make up more than 5 percent of hospitals in the country. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidelines in May to explicitly note that U.S. employers can legally require employees physically entering the workplace to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. An employer does not violate EEOC laws by implementing a mandate if it complies with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other equal employment opportunity considerations, the EEOC said.

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