COVID-19: Large Number of Hospital Personnel Still Unvaccinated

Nearly one-third of hospital personnel had still not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-September.

Despite its proven benefits, a large portion of health care personnel are still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to a study appearing in the American Journal of Infection Control, 30 percent of hospital-based healthcare personnel have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of September 15.

The study looked at the vaccination data for employees at 2457 facilities and found that the highest vaccine coverage was in children’s hospitals with 77% of personnel being vaccinated. This was followed by short term ACH (70.1%), long-term ACH (68.8%), and critical access hospitals (64%).

Hospital personnel in metropolitan counties were more likely to be vaccinated than those in rural counties, or non-metropolitan urban counties, with 71% 65.1%, and 63.3% respectively, the study said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began authorizing COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020, with health care personnel eligible for the shots beginning in December 2020. The study found that vaccination rates rose steadily between December 2020, to April 2021, but slowed after that.

Mandates

While the study looked at data ending in mid-September, the Biden administration has since taken steps to push vaccine uptake even higher.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an emergency regulation mandating the vaccinations in an effort to protect both the workers and patients. The regulation sets a December 5, 2021, deadline for those covered facilities to establish a policy to ensure all eligible staff have received either the first dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a 1-dose COVID-19 vaccine before they provide care, treatment, or other services to patients. All eligible staff must be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.

The requirement will apply to about 76,000 providers and will cover more than 17 million healthcare workers across the United States. It will create a consistent standard across Medicare and Medicaid and give patients piece of mind about their clinician’s vaccination status.

The administration is currently fighting a court battle to determine if a similar requirement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for all employers with 100 or more workers can be implemented. It was also supposed to take effect next month, but an appeals court has implemented a stay.

This article originally appeared on Medical Economics.

Reference

  1. Reses HE, Jones ES, Richardson DB, Cate KM, Walker DW, Shapiro CN. COVID-19 vaccination coverage among hospital-based healthcare personnel reported through the Department of Health and Human Services Unified Hospital Data Surveillance System, United States, January 20, 2021-September 15, 2021. Am J Infect Control. 2021;49(12):1554-1557. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2021.10.008