The nation's health care systems were bracing for the possibility of resistance and more staff shortages after the Supreme Court decided that health care workers should be vaccine free.
After the one-year anniversary of widespread vaccine distribution in a country still largely split over how best to protect Americans during a Pandemic that has produced multiple Surges, the ruling lands. The decision could cause health care workers to oppose state and federal policies.
Local and regional hospitals, as well as multistate hospital chains, have wrestled with the resistance among some nurses and other staff to the Covid vaccines. The Cleveland Clinic and HCA healthcare suspended their own vaccine mandates last month while they waited for the Supreme Court's decision. Some are still assessing the conflict with the anti-vaccine requirements imposed in some states.
Even though some hospitals and nursing homes warn of staff defections spurred by enforcing immunization, the rising infections among staffs in hospitals and nursing homes have lent urgency to the mandates.
One of the nurses who was fired from Houston Methodist Hospital for not getting the vaccine said she doesn't regret her decision. Ms. Bridges still considers the vaccine experimental.
She said that medical bodily autonomy is important. I don't think anyone should force you to do something.
Mandates help to prevent the spread of the virus by persuading more people to bevaccinated, according to many medical experts.
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The nation's health care systems braced for the possibility of some resistance and more staff shortages after the Supreme Court ordered health care workers to be vaccine free.
At a time when we are closing in on 850,000 Americans who have died in the worst global Pandemic in a century, and when we are seeing more and more hospitalizations, it is the obligation of our public agencies to require and enforce essential public safety measures to protect the lives and
While 21 states and the District of Columbia have already mandated vaccines for health care workers, six have implemented bans that prevented some employers from requiring them. Nineteen states have no requirement for health care workers, while five have exemptions from vaccine requirements.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were not allowed to impose a mandate in two dozen states because of federal injunctions. About 10 million workers in health care facilities are affected by the requirement.
The new federal policy was called insane by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference on Thursday. The Agency for Health Care Administration said it wouldn't survey health care facilities about vaccine compliance. On Friday, Mr. DeSantis said that Florida will reject federal mandates that are political and not medical science.
The Supreme Court overrode state laws banning vaccination requirements at facilities participating in the Medicaid and Medicare programs by allowing the mandate for health care workers.
Some hospital chains have begun to require vaccinations for workers who do not have a medical or religious exemption if they do not comply with the threat of losing federal funding.
HCA could compromise its ability to serve its communities and provide care to patients under the Medicare and Medicaid programs if it did not comply with the mandate. More than 90 percent of the 275,000 workers in the system were vaccine free, according to the system.
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The Cleveland Clinic said most of its employees are up to date on their immunizations.
Federal officials said they would work with hospitals and nursing homes to make sure their workers are protected from vaccine-related diseases. The threat of losing funding is still being argued. Mark Neuberger is a lawyer with the health care organization of Foley & Lardner who advises health care organizations on employment issues. The Cleveland Clinic said they would comply. Most of the employees at the clinic werevaccinated.
Health care workers can get medical or religious exemptions under the new rules, but it's not clear how many of them are unvaccinated.
Many nursing homes and smaller rural hospitals are concerned that the mandate will increase the existing staffing shortages that have crippled much of the country during this latest surge. Many health care executives fear being caught in the cross hairs between states that are opposed to the requirement and federal officials who say all states are expected to comply.
Mary Mayhew, president and chief executive of the Florida Hospital Association, said that hospitals don't want to be caught between the federal and state governments. The Supreme Court ruling makes clear that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has the authority to enforce its vaccine mandate.
There are still too many unanswered questions about the long-term impact of the vaccine, according to Dr. Calvin Blount, who has practiced family medicine for more than 20 years. He is facing a new federal policy that could affect his practice. Half of his patients use Medicare.
The vaccine is not recommended for most of my patients, according to Dr. Blount. I don't know what will happen. We don't know which side will prevail because we have a federal law that is in conflict with the state law. If the federal ruling goes against me, I will have to give up my patients who are on Medicare, or I will have to get the vaccine.
Despite the court ruling, many nursing homes urged the administration to allow them to test workers. Mark Parkinson, the chief executive of the American Health Care Association, said that caregivers in vaccine hesitant communities may walk off the job because of this policy, further threatening access to care for thousands of our nation's seniors.
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The hospital is in Miami. The new federal policy was called "insane" by the governor of Florida at a news conference.
According to federal data, 83 percent of nursing home staff members are fully vaccined, but the Omicron variant has sent the number of infections soaring. One of the most vulnerable groups are nursing home residents. The week ending January 9 saw
With the recent Covid surge, states were grappling with vaccine requirements.
Hospitals in the state already had vaccination requirements for their workers despite the Mississippi attorney general joining a group of other states in a lawsuit against the vaccine mandate. At the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, officials said that only 10 of their 10,000 employees had been terminated for not getting vaccinations.
Smaller hospitals that have long struggled to retain workers and have resisted vaccine requirements for their employees said they were worried about the ruling. The chief executive of the Singing River Health System feared that the ruling could lead to the departure of hundreds of workers. The loss of one nurse can have a negative impact on the number of patients we are able to deliver care for.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning employers from requiring vaccines, and his office sued the Biden administration for requiring Army National Guard members to get the shots.
The state hospital association advises hospitals to follow the federal rules after the Supreme Court decision.
In California, vaccination rates have gone up since the end of September when the governor ordered health care workers to be inoculated.
Omicron has been hurting staffing levels at health care facilities across the state because of the spiking hospitalizations for Covid-19.
California health care officials this week changed state guidelines to allow health care workers who have tested positive for the virus to return to work immediately.
State Senator Richard Pan, who has led California efforts to tighten vaccine mandates, said that in politics, if someone wins with 60 or 70 percent of the vote, they have crushed their opponent. That isn't enough in vaccination. You have to get to the upper 80s and 90s in percentages to keep people safe, and there aren't many ways to get 90-plus percent of people to do anything voluntarily. Mandates have been effective.
Madeleine and Adam reported from Washington, as did Christina Jewett and Shawn Hubler.