AHA supports mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers

By A.J. Plunkett (aplunkett@decisionhealth.com)

The American Hospital Association (AHA) is supporting mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare personnel. It is also offering hospitals and health systems public service announcements (PSAs) and other resource materials as a way to keep up the push to get more shots into arms in the face of the evolving novel coronavirus.

In a statement approved by the group’s Board of Trustees, the AHA said it was not only encouraging healthcare workers to get vaccinated, but supported healthcare organizations implementing policies to make COVID-19 shots mandatory.

The AHA wrote that it, “supports hospitals and health systems that adopt mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for health care personnel, with local factors and circumstances shaping whether and how these policies are implemented.”

According to the statement, the AHA recommends that if a hospital or health system does implement mandatory shots that those vaccination policies also:

  • “Provide exemptions for medical reasons and accommodations consistent with Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines (e.g., a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance);
  • Follow relevant Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) infection control guidelines, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, and other federal and state regulations regarding use of personal protective equipment and other infection control practices for unvaccinated staff receiving an exemption or accommodation. For example, unvaccinated personnel may be required to wear a mask at all times even if CDC guidelines and OSHA requirements were to relax mask requirements for vaccinated personnel;
  • Ensure the policy is implemented in a manner consistent with local and state laws;
  • Follow requirements and guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC on which individuals are eligible and should be prioritized for vaccination;
  • Monitor national safety and efficacy data for all FDA authorized or approved vaccines in use;
  • Continue providing education about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines to encourage staff to obtain the vaccine voluntarily; and
  • Offer scheduling flexibility and/or time off to ensure personnel have time to obtain the vaccine and recover from its possible side effects.”

Remember that if your organization does choose to make vaccines mandatory, you should have a clear policy. Also remember surveyors will survey to your written policy.

The AHA is also offering healthcare systems resource materials to continue to get out the message to both the public and their own personnel why vaccinations are important.

With a theme of “Ask questions, follow science, get vaccinated,” the materials include pre-recorded PSAs featuring AHA Board Chair Rod Hochman, M.D., president and CEO of Providence, and chairs from the AMA and the American Nurses Association in an effort to add credibility to the push.

Hospitals and health systems can add their own branding to 30-second and 15-second PSAs and will soon also provide information in Spanish as well as English, according to the AHA.

The announcement also included a continued push for the AHA’s own  #MyWhy vaccination campaign, which focuses on getting healthcare workers to sign up for their vaccinations. That should include those in non-clinical roles, says the AHA.

“Hospitals and health systems are encouraged to have their teams share their own #MyWhy and join the campaign. Ready-to-use materials and resources are available on AHA’s #MyWhy webpage,” said the announcement.

In the statement urging mandatory vaccines, the AHA noted that vaccines “provide strong protection against workers unintentionally carrying the disease to work and spreading it to patients and peers.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on hospitals and the healthcare industry, which has seen a number of nurses and clinicians suffering not only higher rates of burnout than before but also simply leaving the industry.

And there has been a financial toll, of course. Some estimates are that the average hospital cost for a COVID-19 patient without insurance is more than $70,000. And then there is the cost in canceled elective procedures, which some estimates have put at between one-third and one-half of patient volume before the pandemic.

 

 

 

Found in Categories: 
COVID-19, Policies and Procedures