This past Thursday, three leading hospital networks in Massachusetts announced plans to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all employees, even those not working directly with patients, according to the Associated Press.
Leadership’s Strong Stance on Vaccination
Executives from Mass General Brigham, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and Wellforce stressed the necessity of employee vaccinations to curb the coronavirus outbreak and preserve lives.
Dr. Anne Klibanski, CEO of Mass General Brigham, said in a web statement, “There’s undeniable evidence of the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Being vaccinated is the most crucial action we can individually take to bring an end to this damaging pandemic.”
The vaccination mandate will become effective as soon as any COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Currently, three vaccines are being dispensed under Emergency Use Authorization in the United States.
State of Vaccination Among Employees
With around 80,000 workers, Mass General Brigham is the state’s largest private-sector employer. Approximately 85% of their staff have already been vaccinated. Across the three healthcare systems, there are roughly 130,000 employees in total.
In a video address to staff, Dr. Kevin Tabb, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey, highlighted the ethical obligation employees have to safeguard one another and their patients. Tabb emphasized, “The potential cost of putting our patients at risk is too high, especially when this can be prevented.”
Other State Hospital Policies and Exemptions
Other states’ hospital systems have also announced comparable vaccination requirements. In Massachusetts, employees can seek medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine mandate. Additionally, other healthcare networks like UMass Memorial Health Care plan to enforce vaccination mandates pending full FDA approval, according to CEO Dr. Eric Dickson.
As of Thursday, the state reported almost 80 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths, raising the total number of confirmed deaths to 17,622 and confirmed cases to over 663,400. Around 100 people were hospitalized due to the virus, with about 30 in ICUs.
Vaccination Progress in the State
Massachusetts has administered over 8.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. This includes over 4.3 million first doses and more than 3.8 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, along with over 272,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Over 4.1 million individuals in the state are fully vaccinated.