Colorado requiring vaccinations for health care workers
The Colorado Board of Health on Monday voted to implement a vaccine mandate for workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other state health care facilities following a request earlier this month from Gov. Jared Polis (D).
The board members voted 6-1 in a virtual meeting that all employees, direct contractors and other staff at the roughly 3,800 health care facilities licensed in Colorado must receive their first dose of the vaccine by Sept. 30, according to local ABC affiliate KMGH.
Under the measure, which is expected to be finalized by the state health board in October, all health care workers must be fully vaccinated no later than Oct. 31.
The vaccine mandate will apply to staff members at general hospitals, rehabilitation centers, community health centers, assisted living facilities and other similar locations across the state, The Colorado Sun reported.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, roughly 30 percent of health care workers at these facilities are currently unvaccinated.
Polis in an Aug. 17 letter to the state Board of Health called for a vaccine requirement among health workers due to the rising surge in COVID-19 cases, largely attributed to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
“The pandemic we face today is largely a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the governor wrote, echoing previous statements on the recent surges from federal health officials.
“The State can meet this challenge by getting more people vaccinated and protecting those most at risk,” Polis added. “The vaccine is a safe and proven tool to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
The governor pushed for the vaccine mandate among health workers following “conversations with both senior living industry leaders, patient advocates and leaders in healthcare.”
“It’s critical that all personnel who are capable of bringing the deadly virus into facilities where our vulnerable populations are in their custody be fully vaccinated in order to save lives,” he added at the time.
However, opponents to the mandate who spoke at Monday’s board meeting argued that the requirement could fuel staffing shortages, with some workers saying that getting the COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal choice.
The vote Monday makes Colorado the latest in a series of states to adopt similar vaccine requirements for health workers.
Both California and New York moved earlier this month to require staff at health care facilities to be fully vaccinated, as well as Illinois, which also implemented a similar mandate for teachers at public schools.
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