Nearly one third of healthcare workers in U.S. hospitals are still not vaccinated against Covid-19, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as tensions escalate over a looming—and contested—nationwide mandate that officials worry will leave the sector with a shortage of critical workers. 

Key Facts

As of September 15, 70% of healthcare workers were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the CDC study of more than 3 million personnel across more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Rates varied based on the type of hospital, the researchers found, with the highest vaccination rates found in children’s hospitals where 77% of workers have both doses.

Critical access hospitals had the lowest vaccination rate, with 64% of workers fully vaccinated, the researchers found.

Vaccination rates also differed by location, with healthcare staff in metropolitan counties (71%) having higher vaccination rates than those in rural counties (65%).

Vaccine uptake also varied dramatically over time, the researchers found, jumping from 36% to 60% in the four months between January and April—a 24 point jump—but taking five months to reach 70% by September. 

Half of that jump (5%) in vaccination happened in the month between August and September, something the authors said could be due to the spread of the delta coronavirus variant or mandates in some jurisdictions. 

What To Watch For

Federal vaccine mandates come into force early next year. The rules—which will affect more than 17 million healthcare workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid—require workers to have received their final vaccine dose by January 4. 

Key Background

Healthcare workers were among the very first in line for Covid-19 vaccines, a priority for both their occupational risk of infection and their increased risk of passing it on to others, especially vulnerable patients, in healthcare settings. Vaccination rates among different healthcare professionals vary—the American Medical Association says 96% of its practicing physicians have been fully vaccinated and government data indicates 73% of staff at long term facilities are. Individual providers, states and the federal government all now require vaccination of its healthcare workers.

Facilities, some of which have begun to fire workers not complying with mandates, are growing increasingly concerned the requirements will trigger staffing shortages. The continued refusal of healthcare workers to get the jab has frustrated colleagues and officials, not least because most are already required to be vaccinated against a litany of other diseases in order to work.

A number of states are contesting the vaccine mandates and the issue will ultimately be decided in the courts. 
Source: Forbes
Nurse by Isaiah Maghanga is licensed under WikiMedia Commons
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