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Push for mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Healthcare organizations are calling for mandatory vaccinations for all their employees. On Monday, the American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association, and 55 other groups all called for the mandatory action.

These groups say this is necessary to curb the spreading Delta variant and the pandemic.

The reason for this drastic step is due to the surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations across the country. Alabama has seen 1,700 cases a day, and on Sunday hospitalizations were at 870. In Alabama, just little over 50% of healthcare employees in more than 200 nursing homes are fully vaccinated.

The head of the Fair Haven Nursing Home in Birmingham welcomed the possible mandate.

“My reaction is the more people we have vaccinated, the better off we will be. No question about it,” said Patrick Davies, Fair Haven Retirement Community.

While healthcare groups are asking various hospitals, nursing homes and even pharmacies to mandate their employees get COVID vaccines, Davies said they will take their guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare.

“We want to do our part. We have encouraged our associates to vaccinate all along,” Davies said.

Nursing home officials realize that a number of workers are reluctant to take the vaccines for a variety of reasons.

“We think everyone should take the time to study the facts. We think the vaccine is safe and effective, and we have encouraged nursing home residents and staff members to take it,” said John Matson, Alabama Nursing Homes Association.

80% of nursing home residents have taken the vaccines, but the problem is getting more employees to do the same. A key infectious diseases doctor at UAB said this mandate is needed.

“Our first duty as healthcare workers is to protect our patients and to optimize care for them. Our second duty is to role model appropriate healthcare behavior,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, UAB Infectious Diseases.

The nursing home association and Fair Haven said they will continue to rely on an educational program for employees to get shots. A lot people still looking for CDC and FDA to give full approval to the vaccines, not just emergency authorization. This may convince more to get the shots and it could also encourage more to mandate it.

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