The American Hospital Association supports hospitals and health systems that require their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the group announced Wednesday.
AHA, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals and health systems, joins dozens of providers and several associations that have also backed vaccine mandates for healthcare workers.
"The evidence is clear: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in reducing both the risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus to others," AHA CEO Rick Pollack said in prepared remarks. "The AHA supports hospitals and health systems that choose, based on local factors, to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their workforce. Doing so will help protect the health and well-being of healthcare personnel and the patients and communities they proudly serve."
Low vaccination rates in nearly half of the country may prompt another wide-scale surge, healthcare providers warn, noting that some hospitals are already overrun. Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri have been some of the hardest hit by COVID-19 variants, where only 35% to 41% of their residents are fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Coronavirus Tracking Center. The unvaccinated account for 97% of people hospitalized for severe COVID-19, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 cases have increased in more than three dozen states, according to the seven-day trailing average from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Coronavirus Tracking Center. The rate of new cases has more than doubled over a two-week span, the CDC reports.
More hospitals and health systems are forcing their workers to get inoculated and hospital and medical professional associations are following suit. America's Essential Hospitals, which represents more than 300 hospitals and health systems, also supported vaccine decrees Wednesday, joining the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
"By requiring vaccination for all employees, essential hospitals can set the example we need to improve those numbers, turn back the pandemic's latest assault and build equity for all people," Dr. Bruce Siegel, CEO of America's Essential Hospitals, said in prepared remarks, adding that vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 and reducing its spread. "We have lost too many of our caregivers to COVID-19. Vaccination can reduce the risk we lose more."