Major Health Care Professional Organizations Call for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for All Health Workers

AACP Article

Groups include AACP, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Association of American Medical Colleges

(July 26, 2021) With COVID-19 case counts rising amid the spread of the Delta variant, more than 50 health care professional societies and organizations called for all health care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in a joint statement released today. These societies and organizations represent millions of workers throughout health and long-term care – from doctors and nurses to pharmacists and physician assistants, from public health workers and epidemiologists to long-term care, home care, and hospice workers.

Their endorsement of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers aims to protect the safety of patients and residents of long-term care facilities and make the health care sector a leader in COVID-19 vaccination just as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again rising throughout the United States.

“Health care workers have an ethical duty to put patients’ health and well-being first, and getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is integral to that duty,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized the statement. “Employer vaccine mandates are effective and lifesaving, and they are especially appropriate in health care and long-term care settings. No patient should have to worry that they could become infected by one of their care providers, and no provider should put their patient at risk.”

Although vaccination rates among health care workers have been better than that of the general population, by the end of May, one-in-four hospital workers had not been vaccinated. This leaves patients -- especially unvaccinated children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised -- facing a growing risk of infection as the Delta variant surges. If implemented, this mandate would cover 17 million health care workers.

“As the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, especially among unvaccinated persons, requiring that all health care workers who can get vaccinated receive a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect them, their patients, loved ones and others who are vulnerable and immunocompromised,” said George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, FACP, President, American College of Physicians.

“As COVID-19 variants emerge and proliferate, it’s critical that we protect everyone who lives and works in long-term care, by ensuring staff are fully vaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, long-term care providers have demonstrated their dedication, commitment and bravery in the face of unprecedented, challenging circumstances. They must heed the scientific evidence and do everything possible to deliver safe, quality care to the older adults and others they serve,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge.

“As frontline providers, PAs are committed to protecting our patients and the health of the public. Receiving the vaccine is a necessary step for fulfilling this commitment. AAPA supports requiring vaccinations for health workers to keep both the public and healthcare workforce safe,” said Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA, president of the American Academy of PAs.

“Employers have a fundamental responsibility to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees and the people they serve,” said Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDCES, president, American Pharmacists Association. “Due to the nature of the times we live in, this must include requiring their employees be vaccinated, to protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 virus.”

"Health care workers are role models and families rely on them to care for their loved ones,” said Elena Rios, MD, MSPH, FACP, president and CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association. “Now, the most important thing health care workers can do is get the COVID-19 vaccine, setting an example of the best thing we can all do to end the pandemic.”

“Universal vaccination of health care workers is the single most important step healthcare institutions can do to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is essential for protecting the health of their workers, the safety of their patients and ultimately the health of their communities,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association.

“We need to do everything possible to help children, adolescents, and their families safely emerge from the global pandemic,” said Gabrielle A. Carlson, MD, President, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “It is imperative that those who can receive a COVID-19 vaccine do so, especially those who work in a healthcare facility where care is provided to the unvaccinated, including vulnerable children for whom a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved.”   

“Requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment is a powerful tool for protecting frontline workers and patients against highly contagious variants and in communities with significant numbers of unvaccinated people. Health care organizations have an opportunity to lead by example, setting a precedent for other organizations to require vaccination to safeguard the health of employees and entire communities,” said Daniel P. McQuillen, MD, FIDSA, president-elect, Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“The AAMC, whose members continue to provide patient care on the frontlines of this ongoing pandemic, did not come to this decision lightly,” said David J. Skorton, MD, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “Based on the large and convincing body of evidence and real-world experience of the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, requiring vaccinations among those serving at health care institutions is the right decision to promote the health of our patients, their families, and communities.”

“Patients with cancer need to know that their environment, including the people who care for them, is as safe as possible,” said Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO, president, American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Mandatory vaccination is entirely consistent with ASCO’s core values of evidence, care, and impact.”