The Association of American Medical Colleges has added to the chorus of healthcare industry groups calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare personnel.
In a Friday statement, AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, M.D., said that his organization is now urging its member institutions—all 172 accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools, over 400 teaching hospitals and more than 70 academic societies—to adopt these policies among their workforces.
“We are aware of the sensitive nature of this recommendation and understand that it must be made on an institution-by-institution basis, subject to legally required exceptions and consistent with state law,” Skorton said in the statement. “However, for the safety of our patients, communities, health care personnel, faculty and students, we encourage our members to require vaccinations for employees while working with local public health officials as appropriate.”
Skorton’s statement pointed to the resurgence of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated, much of which has been driven by the novel Delta variant of the virus. He said that vaccinating staff helps prevent additional cases among those seeking care while protecting healthcare personnel and their families from the potentially deadly illness.
“We did not come to this recommendation lightly, but instead considered the large and convincing body of evidence on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines that led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency use authorizations (EUAs),” he said.
“The strength of this data collected prior to the EUAs, along with confirmation of the vaccines’ effectiveness in the real world in countries around the world, supports this recommendation. Additionally, while their development may seem unusually quick, these vaccines are the products of over two decades of fundamental research and an unprecedented public-private effort that resulted in the creation of several SARS-CoV-2 vaccines at a breathtaking pace,” he said.
AAMC’s position came days after a consensus statement from seven infectious disease, epidemiology and long-term care professional organizations that similarly called for COVID-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for employment among all healthcare personnel.
In addition to highlighting the observed safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, the groups’ position paper outlined the historical impact flu shot policies have had on the vaccination rates of hospital employees and broke down a slew of clinical, legal, privacy and safety considerations for stakeholders looking to adopt a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
Other healthcare provider industry groups—such as the American Hospital Association and America’s Essential Hospitals—have promoted COVID-19 vaccination and shared informational resources for their membership but have yet to come out with a clear statement on COVID-19 as a condition for healthcare personnel employment.
Regardless, the push for mandatory vaccination has gained steam among individual hospitals and health systems.
Houston Methodist, Henry Ford Health System and Trinity Health are among the dozens of providers that have unveiled mandatory vaccination policies during the summer, stoking the ire of unvaccinated employees who say that these requirements infringe on their personal freedoms. Other organizations like Mass General Brigham have said they will be requiring their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, but only once they have been granted full approval by the FDA.