Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination measures have been introduced in the Department of Veterans Affairs. The department which runs the country’s largest health systems made mandatory vaccination for its front-line workers. It has become the first-ever federal agency to take such a measure.
The new variant of coronavirus, the delta variant, is spreading like wildfire in the nation. The cases are doubling and tripling every week, with the death toll gradually rising. Amidst this, states like California and cities like New York gave choice to the workers- either get vaccinated or test for COVID-19 every week. A number of hospitals, including the very posh Mayo Clinic, have made vaccination mandatory for their staff members. This was followed by the nation’s medical groups coming together for a joint plea.
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These mandates apply to 45,000 New York City employees and contractors, California’s 2.2 million health workers and employees, and VA’s mandate covers 100,000 of the front-line workers. Health care experts say that this move will help escalate the country’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and its variants.
California’s health secretary, Mark Ghaly, called it a tipping point. Ghaly said that millions of people have refused to get vaccinated despite the experts and officials appealing to them persistently, and introducing a bunch of incentives. Ghaly said that California reported around 900 cases of coronavirus in mid-June. This number was enough to chaos the state and fill up hospitals. And now, the state has reported about 3,000 cases, that too of the most contagious delta variant.
According to Washington Post tracking, the nation has seen the cases increasing four-fold in a matter of a month, from reporting 13,000 cases per day at the beginning of the month to 54,000 cases per day by the end. In the states like Florida, Alabama and Missouri, the leaders, officials and experts have tried every method possible to get the residents vaccinated, encouraging them to understand that vaccines prevent hospitalization and deaths.
A bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, Ezekiel Emanuel, said that we have reached a point where the government is responding to vaccine mandates asked by health care workers. Emanuel organized a joint statement with the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and 60 such medical groups, appealing to every health facility to mandate vaccination for their staff members. Emanuel added that more facilities, companies, pharmacies and others are expected to come forward with the vaccine mandates as the nation will be better off for it.
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Despite the easy and free access to coronavirus vaccines, only 60% of adult American adults remain vaccinated. The vaccine became available in December. Until July 11, more than 38% of nursing homes remain unvaccinated, despite admitting patients and high risk to them. Around 25% of hospital staff that come in direct contact with patients are unvaccinated, as per the analysis of WebMD and Medscape Medical News. one reason behind the slow rate of vaccination may be health facilities not imposing vaccination mandates, in fear of losing staff members or facing lawsuits. According to American Hospital Association’s tracker, only 9% of hospitals have introduced vaccination mandates.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said that vacation mandates should be introduced for the workers to feel safe coming to their workplace.
Several medical groups representing hundreds of thousands of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and health workers issued a joint statement, considering the safety of US workers, their families and nation’s health depends on it, wrote the 55 groups in the statement. The severe threat, the extremely slow rate of vaccination and the upsurge of the delta variant compelled these institutions to take this quick step.
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