Story at a glance

  • More than 30 major public health governing bodies signed a letter calling for mandatory vaccines for health care employees.
  • Signatories cite immunocompromised people needing protection from the virus.
  • This comes as the delta variant spreads rapidly across districts with low vaccination rates.

A slew of public health organizations and institutions representing thousands of medical professionals issued a statement on Monday calling for the mandatory vaccination of all active U.S. health employees in a bid to suppress the rising rates of COVID-19 infections.

“We stand with the growing number of experts and institutions that support the requirement for universal vaccination of health workers,” the letter, published in The Washington Post, reads. “As the health care community leads the way in requiring vaccines for our employees, we hope all other employers across the country will follow our lead and implement effective policies to encourage vaccination. The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it.”

It was signed by more than 30 organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Nursing, the Association of American Medical Colleges, National Hispanic Medical Association, the National Pharmaceutical Association and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

The primary reason for supporting mandatory vaccinations comes from the need to protect immunocompromised individuals who are susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections, including after being vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The letter further cited some existing vaccine mandates for more well-understood illnesses, including the flu and hepatitis B.

While the signatories noted that mistrust in some medical institutions, both within the public and within the medical field, has existed and affected vaccination rates, they pledged to address worker concerns and engage with historically marginalized populations. 

They also noted that some health care professionals may not be medically eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, but that this population constitutes a small proportion of all health care workers. 

“Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures,” the signatories write. “We call for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

This letter is the latest chapter in the public messaging crackdown that has emerged as new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are rising, primarily attributed to the contagious delta variant. 

National data exhibits a 170-percent increase in new cases over the last two weeks, with hospitalizations and deaths rising in tandem. 

Outbreak hotspots are largely centered in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. These states have also exhibited lower-than-average vaccination rates, prompting state leadership to issue statements encouraging residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) implored residents to get vaccinated, saying the current state rate of about 40 percent of residents who have at least one shot is “nowhere near where we need to be.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) also encouraged state residents to get vaccinated, writing on Twitter, “Let’s be a winner and get the shot.” 

Published on Jul 26, 2021