Large numbers of hospital staff still not vaccinated against COVID-19

Despite its proven benefits, a large portion of the healthcare workforce is still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, 30% of healthcare workers in hospitals had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of September 15.

The study looked at staff immunization data from 2,457 facilities and found that the highest vaccination coverage was in children’s hospitals, with 77% of staff vaccinated. Next are short-term ACHs (70.1%), long-term ACHs (68.8%) and critical access hospitals (64%).

Hospital staff in metropolitan counties were more likely to be vaccinated than those in rural counties or non-metropolitan urban counties, at 71%, 65.1% and 63.3%, respectively, according to the study.

The United States Food and Drug Administration began authorizing COVID-19 vaccines at the end of 2020, and healthcare workers were eligible for injections from December. The study found that vaccination rates rose steadily between December 2020 and April 2021, but slowed down thereafter.

Mandates

As the study looked at data ending in mid-September, the Biden administration has since taken steps to increase the vaccination rate even further.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued emergency regulations requiring vaccinations in an effort to protect both workers and patients. The regulation sets December 5, 2021 as the deadline for covered establishments to establish a policy ensuring that all eligible staff have received either the first dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a 1-dose COVID-19 vaccine before providing care, treatment or other services to patients. All eligible personnel must be fully immunized by January 4, 2022.

The requirement will apply to approximately 76,000 claimants and will cover more than 17 million healthcare workers across the United States. This will create a consistent standard between Medicare and Medicaid and give patients peace of mind about their clinician’s immunization status.

The administration is currently waging a legal battle to determine whether a similar Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement for all employers with 100 or more workers can be implemented. It was also due to go into effect next month, but an appeals court has put in place a stay.

This article was published in Medical Economics.

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