An analysis conducted by WebMD and Medscape Medical News from data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 2,500 hospitals across the United States revealed that, as of late May 2021, one in four hospital workers caring for patients had not received a COVID-19 vaccination.1
Many Hospital Workers Are Refusing COVID-19 Vaccination
The analysis showed that the percentage of unvaccinated hospital workers was even higher among the nation’s 50 largest hospitals, with one out of three hospital workers remaining unvaccinated.2
Hospital vaccination rates range from 99 percent at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, which has been firing workers refusing COVID-19 vaccinations, to 30 to 40 percent in some hospitals in Florida. Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Texas reported to HHS that 32 percent of its 28,000 hospital workers have not yet received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while Florida’s Lakeland Regional Medical Center reported that 63 percent of their staff is still unvaccinated and AdventHealth in Orlando reported that 56 percent of its staff has not been vaccinated.3
Jagdish Khubchandani, MD, professor of public health sciences at New Mexico State University said, “Health care workers are not monolithic”. He added:
There’s a big divide between males, doctoral degree holders, older people, and the younger low-income, low-education frontline, female health care workers. They are the most hesitant.4
Hospital Workers Continue to Be Concerned About COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
One of the main reasons given by hospital workers for declining to get the COVID-19 vaccine is that the vaccine is still being distributed by vaccine manufacturers under an emergency use authorization (EUA) granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pending the outcome of clinical trials and is still not fully licensed by FDA.5
A social services worker at AdventHealth Gordon in Georgia, who did not want to be named, said:
I am not vaccinated. I want to see more testing done. It took a long time to get a flu vaccine, and we made a COVID vaccine in 6 months. I want to know, before I start putting something into my body, that the testing is done.6
Hospital workers at Georgia’s AdventHealth Gordon are given the option to wear a mask if not vaccinated.7 Joseph Joyave, MD, the hospital’s chief medical officer said that he does not believe the hospital’s low COVID-19 vaccination rate is putting patients at risk. He said, “We continue to use PPE, masking in all clinical areas, and continue to screen daily all employees and visitors.”8
Many Hospitals Are Requiring Workers To Get COVID-19 Vaccines
Public health experts are predicting that most hospitals and medical practices will require that their staff get the COVID-19 vaccine after a Texas federal court sided with Houston Methodist Hospital implementing a policy that required workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or find other employment.9 10
The American Hospital Association said that a large number of hospitals are now making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for its workers, but offering some medical and religious exemptions. Other hospitals are waiting until the FDA approves full licensure of the vaccines following the presentation of more safety and efficacy data by the vaccine manufacturers.11
Henry Ford Health System is the first hospital in Michigan to require all 33,000 of its employees, as well as students, volunteers and contractors, to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine requirement also applies to staff that work remotely.12
Maryland’s largest hospitals and health systems, including University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine, will require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment by the end of summer 2021.13
Although COVID-19 vaccines are still considered to be experimental while being distributed under an EUA, and are and still undergoing Phase III clinical trials with limited vaccine safety data available, Professor Arthur Caplan, PhD at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine said hospital vaccine requirements are no different than other mandates for health workers like getting an annual influenza vaccine, wearing hairnets etc. He said:
Health care workers have three special ethical responsibilities. One is protect the vulnerable, people who are really at risk of a disease. Secondly, put patient interests for first. It doesn’t say, ‘put your choice first.’ Third, they’re supposed to do no harm.14
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Click here to view References:
1 Goodman B, Miller A. Huge Number of Hospital Workers Still Unvaccinated. WebMD June 28, 2021.
9 Vestal C. Hospitals Start Requiring Workers to Get COVID Shots. Pew Trusts June 21, 2021.
10 Hobley N. Mandatory Vaccination Lawsuit by Houston Methodist Hospital Employees Dismissed. The Vaccine Reaction June 23, 2021.
11 Goodman B, Miller A. Huge Number of Hospital Workers Still Unvaccinated. WebMD June 28, 2021.
12 Shamus KJ. Henry Ford Health System to require workers to get COVID-19 vaccine. FreeP.com Jun. 29, 2021.
13 Cohn M, Miller H. Maryland hospitals to start requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Baltimore Sun June 9, 2021.
14 Associated Press. Covid-19 News: Over 150 Texas Hospital Workers Are Fired or Resign Over Vaccine Mandate. The New York Times June 30, 2021.