COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Disclosures: Babcock reports receiving research funding with the CDC Epicenter COVID-19 supplement: SPHEPHERD COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness. Weber reports consulting for Germitec, Merck, PDI, Pfizer and UV Innovators. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
July 13, 2021
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COVID-19 vaccination should be required for all health personnel, groups say

Disclosures: Babcock reports receiving research funding with the CDC Epicenter COVID-19 supplement: SPHEPHERD COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness. Weber reports consulting for Germitec, Merck, PDI, Pfizer and UV Innovators. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Multiple societies representing medical professionals recommended Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccination be required for all health care personnel “as a condition of employment.”

In a joint statement, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists, the Association for Professionals in Epidemiology and Infection Control, and the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine said exemptions should be made only for individuals with medical contraindications related to the vaccine.

COVID-19 sign
SHEA and six other infectious disease organizations recommended that all health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Source: Adobe Stock.

The statement also supports COVID-19 vaccination of nonemployees working at health care facilities, including students, contract workers and volunteers.

SHEA secretary David J. Weber, MD, MPH, medical director of hospital epidemiology and associate chief medical officer at University of North Carolina Health Care, said that by taking a COVID-19 vaccine, health care personnel demonstrate to the public that they do not have any concerns about its safety or efficacy.

“We should be and are leaders in public health,” Weber said during a press briefing.

Many health systems around the country have already announced COVID-19 vaccination mandates for their employees, and societies included the IDSA have previously supported mandatory immunizations against influenza and other infectious diseases.

In the new statement, the societies outlined the following reasons for the recommendation:

  • The available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States have high efficacy to prevent symptomatic and serious COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines under FDA emergency use authorization have safety profiles consistent with vaccines that are FDA approved.
  • Full vaccination against COVID-19 offers advantages to both health care workers and patient health, including protection against infection and further protection against individuals who are unable to receive the vaccine or mount an immune response.
  • The vaccines retain good efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 variant strains.
  • Past and current research indicate that a “sufficient” vaccination rate is “unlikely” to be reached without making vaccination mandatory for health care workers.

“Health care facilities should provide an inclusive and transparent process that facilitates and acknowledges input from health care personnel and other stakeholders before reaching a decision to adopt a policy of vaccination as a condition of employment,” the authors wrote.

If a facility determines that a vaccination mandate it not immediately possible, they said, it should try to improve vaccine coverage through endorsement by senior leadership, education and removing financial and physical barriers to access.

If coverage does not reach at least 90% — a proportion considered “minimal” based on influenza vaccination rates — “the facility should implement a policy of requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment,” the authors said.

Hilary Babcock

The statement noted the need for better data regarding the vaccine’s duration of protection and effectiveness among immunocompromised patients, and randomized clinical trial data for pregnant patients. However, they said that no fetal or maternal harm has been reported in the 120,000 patients who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are very excited to be able to support this statement, and to bring this statement forward feeling confident that it is a positive move to keep our employees and health care workers across the country safe — and to improve the safety of our patients at the same time,” said Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH, past president of SHEA and chair of the SHEA Education and Research Foundation, who spearheaded the legal considerations section of the joint recommendation.

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