COVID-19 vaccines teased hope of a return to normal while igniting a fierce debate concerning the government’s and private employers’ authority to mandate measures aimed at ending a generational public health crisis.
Pfizer, Moderna and BioNTech produced vaccines for the deadliest global outbreak in the last century, which is why Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel top Modern Healthcare's Most Influential People in Healthcare in 2021. Pfizer's influence and scope gave Bourla an advantage over Bancel.
Meanwhile, vaccine mandates exacerbated underlying political tensions, evoking rancorous opposition.
While a relatively small numbers of healthcare employees are giving up their jobs over vaccine directives, the situation has worsened underlying staffing issues related to compensation and safety.
Healthcare workers are exhausted after treating a seemingly endless stream of COVID-19 patients and experiencing nearly two years of consistent trauma. Nurses, who tend to be the most hesitant regarding vaccination, have called for more staff, higher pay and better working conditions. These perennial complaints have gotten louder as the pandemic persisted.
But the issue is bigger than COVID-19. Hospitals are paying more for contract labor and boosting salaries and benefits, a trend many expect to continue after the pandemic. This could to lead a permanent restructuring of the healthcare workforce, experts predict.
As much of the general public hopes that vaccines will continue to limit the loss of life caused by COVID-19, industry observers are optimistic that the pandemic will shape a safer and more effective healthcare delivery system. And given the evolution of the virus, it’s likely COVID vaccines, just like flu shots, will continue to be a part of our lives for the long term.