The low vaccination rate among staff is one of the most frustrating elements that many families with loved ones living in care facilities encounter. The staff’s job is to provide support and life-saving medical care, yet these caregivers may not be vaccinated. About one-quarter (1,500) hospitals in the United States now require vaccines, but that is changing.
White House steps in
The Biden Administration is stepping up to mandate it as part of a Path out of the Pandemic. Following new Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) guidelines from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the first step is “Vaccinating the Unvaccinated.” This makes it a federal regulation for all businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations or weekly testing. It also requires federal workers, contractors and the 17 million health care workers employed in hospitals, elder care facilities and businesses that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated, including medical staff, attendants and even administrators with no direct contact with residents, patients and clients. It also includes those employees who work from home.
This mandate will likely get enforced here in Texas – Houston Methodist already fired or accepted resignations of 150 workers who refused to get vaccinated in June. Other systems take a similar stance, telling workers to vaccinate or apply for a medical or religious exemption.
This will raise the vaccination rates across the state. But it will also help head off the increasing likelihood of a health care labor shortage as staff burnout rises because of the rising tide of infections due to the delta variant. Healthcare facilities are also now again at maximum capacity for the first time since February, meaning they cannot admit those sick with COVID or another illness. There are now reports of people dying as they wait for treatment. Check back as we follow this issue further.