ACP gives employers, others greenlight on vaccine mandates

The organization says the government’s requirements are appropriate.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has issued new policies in support of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare employers receiving federal funds.

According to a news release, employers and schools can appropriately require proof of vaccination against highly transmissible diseases such as COVID-19. ACP says the requirements should be complimented by support offered through education, outreach, and paid time off for vaccination and to deal with side effects of the shots. The support is important to offer to marginalized populations who are subject to racism and discrimination.

The organization also says that while those who have medical contraindications should be exempt from these requirements, allowing exemption based on non-medical reasons poses a risk to public health, the release says.

“Vaccines are safe and effective, they help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death. Increasing the vaccination rate for COVID-19 is foundational in helping to bring infection rates under control and to keep them under control,” George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, president of ACP, says in the release. “We need to ensure that as many members of our society are vaccinated as possible to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

The organization also recommends all healthcare workers be immunized for the safety of patients and the public unless there is a clear medical contraindication or legal exemption. The ACP supports employers requiring all healthcare workers be vaccinated against highly transmissible diseases as a condition of employment and has previously supported requirements for COVID-19 vaccines in healthcare workers, according to the release.

ACP is committed to health equity and recognizes the historical and continued mistrust of healthcare institutions by people, including marginalized populations which are subject to discrimination and racism. It recommends that employers and healthcare professional societies and organizations commit to engagement, outreach, education, and provision of resources to all, the release says.

“Health care workers have an obligation to protect the health and well-being of their patients, getting recommended immunizations, including the COVID-19 vaccine, is key that protection,” Abraham says in the release. “Throughout the pandemic, physicians and other health care workers have repeatedly demonstrated their dedication to caring for the patients who need them, vaccination is a critical part of caring for patients, their families and loved ones. Immunizations are essential in our fight against COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Because they are so vital to our ability to mitigate diseases that threaten the public health we need to employ as many different means of encouraging individuals to get vaccinated as possible.”

The ACP has taken a more hands-on approach in the push for vaccination in recent weeks and recently spoke out against COVID-19 misinformation.

“While ethical and responsible discussions of evidence and science to inform patient care and scientific and public policy are necessary and appropriate, clinicians—including physicians—must not contribute to spreading misinformation that can be harmful to patients,” Abraham said in a statement. “Physicians have an ethical obligation to put patient care and best interests above self-interest, and to provide patients and the public with accurate information about health care. We agree with the U.S. Surgeon General that health misinformation is a serious threat to public health. Contributing to the spread of misinformation that is not factual or based on the best available evidence puts the health of patients, families and communities at risk and thwarts the efforts of all physicians, health care workers, researchers, and others who are working tirelessly to fight COVID-19.”