Hospitals should require COVID-19 vaccination as condition of employment, healthcare epidemiologists urge

Hospitals should require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and six other medical coalitions urged in a consensus statement released July 13.  

The endorsement is one of the first from medical groups. In addition to SHEA, the stance is backed the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists.

The groups' call for COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of hospital employment comes as more than 30 health systems and hospital associations have required vaccination for their workforces. Houston Methodist was the first, issuing its mandate March 31. University of Chicago Medicine is the most recent, issuing its mandate July 13.  

The medical groups posit that mandates move the needle on vaccination rates for large groups of workers, pointing to flu vaccine requirements. "Research shows that prior to the pandemic, rates of routine vaccinations among healthcare providers were suboptimal," according to a statement from SHEA. "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." 

In guidelines updated May 28, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers can legally require employees physically entering the workplace to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  

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