At times, vaccines can become a controversial topic. There are strong opinions about where protecting society as a whole stops and an individual’s rights start. With COVID-19 in the news and the potential for a vaccine, the topic is not going away any time soon.
If you’re a healthcare worker, vaccine requirements are likely not new to you. But can employers mandate vaccines, and can you refuse?
Vaccine recommendations for healthcare workers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend healthcare workers get the following vaccines:
- Hepatitis B
- MMR (Measles, mumps, and rubella)
- Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)
The flu vaccine, which is offered yearly, has come into debate as more healthcare facilities across the country enact policies for mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers.
One of the arguments for mandatory vaccines is that it is the responsibility of healthcare providers to vaccinate and protect patients from getting the disease. By refusing vaccination, it may cause harm and violate their duty as a healthcare worker to do no harm.
On the flip side of the debate is by mandating a vaccine, it strips workers of their rights to make their own health care decisions. Additionally, if an individual opposes a vaccine due to medical concerns or religious reasons, and he would lose his job, the mandate is discriminatory. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, there are legitimate arguments for both sides.
Amid COVID-19 the question as to whether vaccines are mandatory has been coming up more and more. The answer to whether vaccines are mandatory for healthcare workers is yes and no, which sounds confusing. That is because laws vary by state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), currently 15 states have laws that require healthcare workers to have certain immunizations for employment.
But within each state, the law usually includes some type of exemption. The allowed exemptions vary. Some states are stricter than others on allowable exemptions. To further complicate things, if a state is under a “state of emergency,” such as with COVID-19, other mandates may be enacted to protect public health, which may impact enforcing vaccines. If you live in a state that requires mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers, can you refuse? You may be able to decline based on allowable exemptions. Again, state laws vary on exemptions.
In some cases, a facility may have specific policies in place for team members that do not get a vaccine due to an exemption. For example, medical practices and hospitals will require staff wear a surgical mask at work for the entire flu season if they refuse a flu vaccine.
We don’t have a crystal ball on what the future holds when it comes to mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers. If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, healthcare workers are likely to be one of the first populations vaccinated. Whether that vaccination will be mandatory is not clear.
Only time will tell the direction that mandatory vaccines will take. One thing we do know is that educating yourself as much as possible about any vaccine, including the risks and benefits, helps you make an informed decision
Practicing quality medicine while maintaining and managing the bottom line is a balancing act that providers face daily. The Physicians Practice S.O.S. Group is committed to helping healthcare providers across the country with new practice startups, IRO needs, and providing practice management and compliance solutions. Call our office to discuss any needs you might have.
Regina Mixon Bates, CEO | The Physicians Practice S.O.S. Group | www.ppsosgroup.com
#ReginaMixonBates #practicemanagementconsulting #practicemanagement #physicianconsulting #medicalconsulting #businesscoach #publicspeaker #motivationalspeaker