WASHINGTON D.C.: Small numbers of health care workers throughout the United States are facing being fired or suspended for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Early in September, President Joe Biden announced a requirement for workers to be vaccinated at health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, encompassing some 17 million health care
WASHINGTON D.C.: Small numbers of health care workers throughout the United States are facing being fired or suspended for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Early in September, President Joe Biden announced a requirement for workers to be vaccinated at health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, encompassing some 17 million health care workers throughout the nation.
Additionally, New York, California, Rhode Island and Connecticut also set vaccine mandates for health care workers that became effective this week.
Health care administrators, however, are voicing concerns over staff shortages at hospitals, which are still grappling with COVID-19 cases.
Some hospital networks report that they increased hiring prior to the vaccine deadlines to maintain proper staffing.
ABC News contributor John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, said that while the number of health workers to be fired will not be that large, at the same time, “we can’t afford to lose anybody at this point.”
“By and large, vaccine mandates are working. Those in health care are taking these vaccine incredibly seriously to protect themselves and their patients.” Brownstein told ABC. “We’re seeing a greater need of health care — there was a lot of deferred care for elective surgeries and behavioral health — juxtaposed with existing shortages of health care workers. Any impact is going to create even more pressure on health care systems.”
Officials at North Carolina’s Novant Health hospital system, which has over 35,000 employees working in 15 hospitals and over 800 clinics, said that some 175 workers have been terminated for failing to get vaccinated, according to ABC News.
Novant Health also reported that some 375 staff who were not vaccinated, as of last week, were given a five-day suspension during which they might choose to become vaccinated.
Of the 375 employees, nearly 200 became vaccinated, Novant Health said Monday. The health care system now reports a vaccine compliance rate of over 99%, officials said.
“Without a vaccine mandate for team members, we faced the strong possibility of having a third of our staff unable to work due to contracting, or exposure to, COVID-19. This possibility only increases heading into a fall season with the more contagious and deadly delta variant,” said Novant Health CEO and president Carl Armato, as reported by ABC news.
Also, Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, which employs 26,000 staff, said 153 employees have quit or been fired due to the vaccine requirement. Of those, 26 were nurses.
“We staffed up prior to the mandate so that we would be much better prepared when our June 7 deadline arrived, and then we had the fourth surge in Houston starting in July. We continue to hire positions as needed, so we’ve not had any major turnover or staffing concerns,” hospital spokesperson Lisa Merkl told ABC News.