APhA, ASHP, Others Support Vaccine Mandates for Health Care Workers

Joint statement released supporting belief that COVID-19 vaccines are the logical fulfillment of the ethical obligation of all health care workers to put their patients first.

A statement from more than 50 health care organizations is urging all health care employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations among staff members, according to a press release from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).1

“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 APhA President Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDCES, in the press release. “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.”1

The official statement said that mandating COVID-19 vaccines is the logical fulfillment of the ethical obligation of all health care workers to put their patients first and take all necessary steps to ensure health and well-being. As highly contagious variants become the dominant strains, vaccination is the primary way to end the pandemic and avoid the return of measures such as stay-at-home orders and universal mask requirements.1

Unfortunately, the statement said that many health care and long-term care personnel are still unvaccinated. All health care workers should get vaccinated both for their own health and to protect their colleagues, families, residents of long-term care facilities, and patients, which is especially important for those who are vulnerable, including unvaccinated children and immunocompromised individuals.1

“We stand with the growing number of experts and institutions that support the requirement for universal vaccination of health workers,” the groups said in the statement. “While we recognize some workers cannot be vaccinated because of identified medical reasons and should be exempted from a mandate, they constitute a small minority of all workers. Employers should consider any applicable state laws on a case-by-case basis.”1

Many large health care systems have already mandated COVID-19 vaccination for all employees. For example, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced that all employees must be vaccinated by September 9, 2021, and said that their ultimate responsibility is to provide patients and families with the safest treatment environment possible.2

The statement was signed by health care organizations across all areas of medicine, including oncology, pharmacy, health systems, and pediatric medicine. Collectively, the organizations that signed the endorsement represent millions of workers.1 Pharmacy organizations involved include the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, APhA, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), the National Pharmaceutical Association, and more.1

According to the press release, the endorsement makes the health care sector a leader in the national vaccination campaign, just as cases are rising again. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect communities, which is why many health care and long-term care organizations already require vaccinations for influenza, hepatitis B, and pertussis.1

The statement noted that existing COVID-19 vaccine mandates have proven effective, although it also acknowledged that historical mistrust of health care institutions is a major challenge. To address this, the statement urged health care organizations to engage with the concerns of employees and marginalized groups, and to work with trusted messengers to improve vaccine acceptance.1

“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 ensure vaccination,” the statement concluded. “The health and safety of US workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it.”1

REFERENCE

1. APhA Urges COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for All Health Workers. APhA; July 26, 2021. Accessed July 26, 2021. https://www.pharmacist.com/APhA-Press-Releases/apha-urges-covid-19-vaccine-mandates-for-all-health-workers

2. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Vaccine mandate FAQs. July 14, 2021. Accessed July 26, 2021. https://www.stjude.org/media-resources/special-announcements/vaccine-mandate-faqs.html#7a1fb4f34910ce2220b014c210e5f9b645b4d3e19bae14affdecece42a544dbe=0