The recent CMS attempted COVID-19 vaccination mandates have raised many questions and for some, a rush to ensure compliance. Healthcare organizations nationally have experienced staff turnover and are wary of additional administrative burdens on already taxed infection and occupational health teams. Although staff vaccinations
in healthcare organizations is not a new topic, COVID-19 has surfaced the importance of tracking vaccinations. Even with delayed
governmental mandates, many organizations
are requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated to show compliance and to ensure safer patients, a safer workforce and a safer organization.
The CDC recently published a report about COVID-19 vaccination coverage among hospital-based healthcare personnel, finding 70% of healthcare workers fully vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving 30% of the healthcare workforce unvaccinated, creating the higher risk potential for spread.
While COVID-19 has dominated news outlets, healthcare workers know there are many other viruses that put both patients and staff at risk of illness. An unvaccinated healthcare worker is a potential vector of transmission. Not just for COVID-19 but influenza, hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles and many other pathogens. This is particularly salient when caring for those who are chronically immunocompromised, the very young, elderly or those who require complex care due to illness and disease. Having comprehensive information at the ready about your workforce’s vaccination compliance helps you to keep not only your workforce safer but also your patients safer.
Patients are too often discussed as theoretical abstracts, numbers, the faceless masses finding themselves needing the healthcare continuum. However, the reality is that patients are all of us. Let us also not forget that healthcare workers themselves have a reasonable right to a “safe” work environment, which includes the promise of safe practices, adequate safety equipment and yes, vaccines, which protect not only them but their colleagues, patients, and visitors.
We encourage you to ask yourself a few simple questions about the governance of future mandates.
- Risk management teams: Are we managing, tracking, and mitigating risk to our patients, health care workers and visitors?
- Compliance teams: Can we prove our compliance? How will we communicate and provide evidence to authority when asked for?
Hannah E. Reses, MPH , Emma S. Jones, MS, Donald B. Richardson, PhD, Kristopher M. Cate, MS, David W. Walker, MPH, Craig N. Shapiro, MD; American Journal of Infection Control; BRIEF REPORT| VOLUME 49, ISSUE 12, P1554-1557, DECEMBER 01, 2021. Open Access Published: November 17, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2021.10.008
Field RI. Mandatory vaccination of health care workers: whose rights should come first?. P T. 2009;34(11):615-618. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810172/
CMS Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule – External FAQ