As the Delta variant spreads, healthcare groups support mandatory vaccines for all staff; APIC urges public to mask indoors per CDC guidance

by Brianna Crandall — August 16, 2021 — With the Delta variant becoming predominant and Covid-19 cases on the rise, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) recently signed on to a joint statement of healthcare organizations in support of Covid-19 vaccine mandates for all workers in health and long-term care. APIC also released a statement urging the public to resume indoor masking per recent CDC guidance.

APIC Vaccinations

Image courtesy APIC

Healthcare staff vaccine mandates

APIC released this joint statement about healthcare staff vaccine mandates:

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Due to the recent Covid-19 surge, and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, our health care organizations and societies advocate that all health care and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.

Because of highly contagious variants, including the Delta variant, and significant numbers of unvaccinated people, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are once again rising throughout the United States. Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures.

Unfortunately, many health care and long-term care personnel remain unvaccinated. As we move towards full FDA approval of the currently available vaccines, all health care workers should get vaccinated for their own health, and to protect their colleagues, families, residents of long-term care facilities and patients. This is especially necessary to protect those who are vulnerable, including unvaccinated children and the immunocompromised.  Indeed, this is why many health care and long-term care organizations already require vaccinations for influenza, hepatitis B, and pertussis.

We call for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

We stand with the growing number of experts and institutions that support the requirement for universal vaccination of health workers. While we recognize some workers cannot be vaccinated because of identified medical reasons and should be exempted from a mandate, they constitute a small minority of all workers. Employers should consider any applicable state laws on a case-by-case basis.

Existing COVID-19 vaccine mandates have proven effective. Simultaneously, we recognize the historical mistrust of health care institutions, including among many in our own health care workforce. We must continue to address workers’ concerns, engage with marginalized populations, and work with trusted messengers to improve vaccine acceptance.

As the health care community leads the way in requiring vaccines for our employees, we hope all other employers across the country will follow our lead and implement effective policies to encourage vaccination.  The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it.

SIGNATORIES

(Listed Alphabetically)

  • Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP)
  • American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN)
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
  • American Academy of Nursing (AAN)
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
  • American Academy of PAs (AAPA)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • American Association of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI)
  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE)
  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN)
  • American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)
  • American College of Physicians (ACP)
  • American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM)
  • American College of Surgeons (ACS)
  • American Epilepsy Society (AES)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA)
  • American Public Health Association (APHA)
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)
  • American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
  • American Society of Hematology (ASH)
  • American Society of Nephrology (ASN)
  • American Thoracic Society (ATS)
  • Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
  • Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
  • Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC)
  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
  • Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN)
  • Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS)
  • HIV Medicine Association Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)
  • LeadingAge
  • National Association of Indian Nurses of America (NAINA)
  • National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)
  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
  • National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA)
  • National League for Nursing (NLN)
  • National Medical Association (NMA)
  • National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA)
  • Nurses Who Vaccinate (NWV)
  • Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN)
  • Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS)
  • Philippine Nurses Association of America, Inc (PNAA)
  • Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO)
  • Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA)
  • Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM)
  • Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP)
  • Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR)
  • Texas Nurses Association (TNA)
  • The John A. Hartford Foundation
  • Transcultural Nursing Society (TCNS)
  • Virgin Islands State Nurses Association (VISNA)
  • Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN)

(References cited by APIC are listed on the statement page.)

Public indoor mask use

APIC also urges the public to heed new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about mask wearing in light of new data showing the high transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant.

APIC mask

Image courtesy APIC

The CDC recently announced that in areas with substantial or high Covid-19 spread, the public needs to return to indoor mask wearing, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. CDC also recommends that all personnel and children in K-12 schools wear masks. Their recommendations are based on new information showing that the Delta variant is substantially more contagious than earlier variants, causes more severe Covid-19 illness, and that infected individuals who are vaccinated may spread it as easily as infected individuals who are not vaccinated.

This may be difficult news for Americans who were vaccinated and had shed their masks indoors in accordance with CDC’s earlier guidance for vaccinated individuals, acknowledges APIC. As public health experts learn more about how Covid-19 spreads, and in particular about the severity of the Delta variant, they will modify guidance accordingly and may recommend new ways to prevent transmission.

APIC urges the public to do their part to keep their communities safe by getting the Covid-19 vaccine, social distancing, and masking appropriately per CDC guidance. The vast majority of severe illness and deaths from Covid-19 are occurring among unvaccinated people. Vaccination is the single most effective strategy we have to stop the spread of Covid-19, and when combined with other prevention methods, can prevent serious disease, hospitalization and death, states APIC.