Nearly 60 Healthcare Groups Urge Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination for Physicians, Locum Tenens Providers

Today the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Nurses Association (ANA), and 55 other healthcare organizations called for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including locum tenens providers.

MedPage Today Deputy Managing Editor Molly Walker reported, “The joint statement was unequivocal: ‘We call for all healthcare and long-term-care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19,’ it said in a single paragraph in bold and italicized font.”

Today’s press release by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) noted, “Although vaccination rates among health care workers have been better than that of the general population, by the end of May, one-in-four hospital workers had not been vaccinated (indicating three-fourths of hospital workers have been). This leaves patients — especially unvaccinated children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised — facing a growing risk of infection…If implemented, this mandate would cover 17 million health care workers.”

Previously, the American Hospital Association was the largest healthcare organization to urge mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers. Co-signers to the AMA-ANA statement included the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, which had released a July 13 joint statement recommending mandatory vaccination as a condition of employment.

Other groups signing onto today’s statement included the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American College of Surgeons, the American Pharmacists Association, and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice

Expert Perspective

In reaction to today’s news, Andrew Wilner, MD, FACP, FAAN, and author of The Locum Life, A Physician’s Guide to Locum Tenens, observed, “As a physician and a healthcare provider, I think it’s important we understand that patient populations are vulnerable. It’s our job to do everything we can to see they receive excellent care and treatment for what ails them — and to ensure we protect them from additional infections or detrimental health conditions. If this means we must make health-related sacrifices of our own, then it is our privilege to do so.”

Further, Dr. Wilner underscored how critical he believes it is for locum tenens physicians, who travel to practice medicine, to be fully vaccinated. 

Currently an associate professor of neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tenn, Dr. Wilner praised Memphis-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for its foresight in spending some $20 million in 2020 to ensure every worker the hospital  employs, including physicians, was tested weekly for COVID-19 — and more recently, for mandating that all of its employees be vaccinated for the coronavirus by September 9.

Related News

In a July 20 “AMA COVID-19 Daily Video Update,” American Medical Association (AMA) Vice President of Ethics Audiey Kao, MD, PhD, said “a recent [AMA] survey found that more than 96% of physicians reported having received the COVID-19 vaccine.”

However, a June 16 internet survey by the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) found that “nearly 60 percent of more than 700 practicing and retired physicians said they were not fully vaccinated and would decline the shots based on their assessment of risk,” The Epoch Times (TET) reported.

Among physicians reporting vaccination via the AMA survey, the most common vaccine received was Pfizer-BioNTech (64%), followed by Moderna (34%) and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (2%). The most common reason for not receiving the vaccine was “concern about the vaccine being too new and having unknown long-term effects,” according to the AMA survey report.

While there were “no significant differences in physician vaccination rates across various demographic groups, including PCP vs specialist; region; gender; age and race, there was a significant difference in vaccination rates among Hispanics (84%) and non-Hispanics (97%).”

The AAPS noted its 700-plus responses more than doubled the AMA’s 301 responses (half primary care providers, half specialists). Of 560 AAPS practicing-physician respondents, more than half (56%) said they offered early treatment for COVID-19.

The AAPS survey also showed that 54 percent of physician respondents were aware of patients suffering a “significant adverse reaction.” Of the unvaccinated physicians, 80 percent said, “I believe risk of shots exceeds risk of disease,” and 30% said “I already had COVID.”

In his July 21 article (updated 7/22/2021), TET reporter Allan Stein wrote, “While neither survey represents a random sample of all US physicians, the AAPS survey shows doctor support for the mass injection campaign is ‘far from unanimous.’ ”

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