Why Houston Methodist’s CEO mandated Covid-19 vaccines for employees

Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom explained this month why he decided to have employees vaccinated against Covid-19 in a case open to MedPage Today – although other hospitals and health organizations continue to grapple with the decision.

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In December 2020 the Equal Opportunities Commission (EEOC) said employers hired to vaccinate employees against Covid-19 would not violate federal disability law or civil rights laws related to discrimination – only if they offered workers based on their vaccination status from accommodations such as teleworking or leave of absence from work would have allowed exceptions for those who refuse the vaccine on religious grounds.

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And according to a poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation In April, nearly 60% of healthcare workers said they would support their organization, which mandates that all staff who work with patients be vaccinated.

However, the survey found that more than 80% of the 30% or so of healthcare workers who said they weren’t planning to vaccinate or hadn’t made a decision would speak out against an employer who prescribed the vaccine – and nearly two – Others said they would rather quit their jobs than get the vaccination. Among all salaried healthcare workers, the survey would show that around one in six people would leave their job instead of being vaccinated.

Such mandates for health care workers are more popular with the public, reports the Post. According to the survey, 70% of non-healthcare workers said they would support a mandate requiring healthcare workers who interact with patients to be vaccinated.

In that department, according to the Post, at least seven companies that care for elderly or frail patients have announced that they will require their staff to take the recordings, including Atria Senior Living– who announced that his around 10,000 employees must have had at least one shot by May 1st – and Sunrise Senior LivingAll employees must be fully vaccinated by the end of July.

Houston Methodist Announces Mandate

According to the Post, the Houston Methodist became the first healthcare system in America to announce in early April that all 26,000 employees in its outpatient facilities and eight hospitals must be vaccinated. All employees must be vaccinated by June 7th.

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Boom wrote for MedPage Today that the Covid-19 vaccines are not “the first time our industry has stepped up vaccines mandatory”. For example, he notes that flu vaccines for health care workers – voluntarily “[n]Not so long ago “- are now required in 17 states.” If we prescribe flu vaccines for these numbers [between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths per year since 2010]We also need to prescribe Covid-19 vaccines considering how much more deadly it is, “he writes.

Since the Houston Methodist gave his mandate, the health system has effectively established herd immunity, Boom continues, noting that more than 89% of employees have received the vaccine. “We are already seeing positive results: the number of employee infections has decreased as the number of vaccinated employees has increased.”

According to Boom, health organizations that prescribe Covid-19 vaccines would ultimately not only promote the safety of patients and employees alike, but also “allo”[w] We should set an example for those who are reluctant to get vaccinated “by showing that” we have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine “.

He sums it up, “Health systems and employers, please join the Houston Methodist in making the vaccine mandatory for staff – and fast. The sooner we can end this pandemic, the fewer lives will be lost and the closer we can be.” come.” become normal. “

Mandates remain controversial

According to the Post, despite the Houston Methodist’s decision – and guidance from EEOC – many other health organizations remain reluctant to commission the vaccine among staff.

This is in part because several vaccines have received Emergency Authorization (EUAs) from FDA, not yet fully authorized, reports the Post. According to the FDA’s EUAs, anyone who receives the vaccine must give their consent. As a result, says Lawrence Gostin, professor at the Georgetown University Law CenterRequiring an emergency-only vaccine is a gray area of ​​legality and can be unlawful.

As hospitals across the country “start asking” should we? “To be asked when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine, said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital AssociationMany are not ready to make a firm decision.

For example, Amy Compton-Phillips, Head of Clinical Care at providence, which vaccinated about 70% of its employees in early April, she said that while she would like to “order” a coronavirus vaccine, the health system doesn’t “think we can do it” without full approval from the FDA granted.

Compton-Phillips added, “We’ll think about it later. As we get more and more data on how safe it is, how well it works, how long the protection lasts, it will be much easier to prescribe the vaccine” “ (Goldstein, Washington Post, 4/5; Boom, MedPage Today, 5/2).

Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story, the Houston Methodist was incorrectly identified as Houston Medical.

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