Medical Technology

Some Hospitals Drop Worker Vaccine Mandates

Editor’s note: Find the most up-to-date COVID-19 news as well as instructions in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Coronavirus Resource Center.

A federal judge temporarily halted the Biden administration’s mandate that health care workers be covered by COVID-19, some of the largest hospitals in the U.S. dropped COVID-19 requirements for employees.

AdventHealth, HCA Healthcare and Intermountain Healthcare all announced that they have cancelled the requirements to address the labor shortages. Hospitals have struggled with sufficient nurses, technicians, janitors, and other staff to handle the recent rise in hospitalizations due to the pandemic.

The Wall Street Journal reported that high levels of burnout, labor costs and mandated vaccines played a part. Many workers have quit the field or lost their jobs in recent months instead of getting vaccinated.

“It’s been a massive departure, so a lot people in the health industry are willing to shop for alternatives,” Wade Symons (an employee benefits lawyer and head of the U.S. regulatory practice at consulting firm Mercer) told the newspaper.

“If you are able to access certain health care facilities that don’t require it, those could be a draw for people who don’t want to take the vaccine,” he said. “They’ll likely have a better in attracting labor.”

The Biden administration’s mandated that all health workers at facilities that take part in Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. A federal judge in Louisiana decided that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did not have the authority to require vaccinations for all health professionals at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

Federal officials are appealing the decision and the case is likely to be heard by the Supreme Court, the newspaper reported. The court’s decision on Monday allowed New York’s mandate to use vaccines to be continued. Other challenges to vaccine requirements were rejected by the justices.

To The Washington Post , the five hospital groups together have more than 300 hospitals, employing more than 500,000 employees. However, it is not clear how many hospitals will suspend the mandate because some states, like California or New York, have their own vaccine requirements.

HCA Healthcare, which is one of the country’s largest health care providers, said the majority of its 275,000 employees are vaccinated. Intermountain Healthcare said that 98% of its workers were vaccinated, and the Cleveland Clinic said 85% of its employees were vaccinations.

Harlow Sumerford, a spokesperson for HCA Harlow Sumerford, a spokesperson for HCA, said that “we continue to encourage my colleagues to be immunized as a crucial step to safeguard people from this virus.” Harlow Sumerford told the Journal.

Other hospital systems have also abided by their vaccination requirements, the newspaper reported. Kaiser Permanente, which runs 39 hospitals as well as hundreds of medical offices and has 210,000 employees, gave workers until December. 1 to be vaccinated. So far, 98% staff are vaccinated. On Wednesday, 352 employees were fired by the hospital system. 1500 more workers could be fired in January if they are not fully immunized.

Northwell Health, New York’s largest provider of health care with 77,000 employees told the newspaper that it would continue to meet its obligations. The health system dismissed 1,400 employees who were not vaccinated in October.

Hospitals that are dropping the vaccine requirements are often adding other security protocols, including regular employee testing, the Post reported. The Cleveland Clinic stated that it was adding additional measures, including testing employees who provide direct treatment to patients.

“We have heard a few anecdotal accounts of hospitals that have stopped or reversed their vaccination requirements in light of the legal process that is currently playing out,” the American Hospital Association said to the newspaper.

“However, we do not think that hospitals are changing their rules,” the association said. “But certain hospitals may be opting to mandate weekly testing or other limiting strategies for workers who are not vaccinated.”


The Wall Street Journal: “Some Hospitals Drop Covid-19 Vaccines to Reduce the shortage of labor.”

The Washington Post: “Some hospitals cancel worker vaccination requirements because of Biden rule tied up in courts.”

The New York Times: “Big Hospital Chains Drop Vaccine Mandates for Health Workers.”

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