Apr 6, 2021 - Health

Health industry grapples with COVID vaccine mandates

Illustration of a syringe checking off boxes on a list

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As coronavirus vaccines become less scarce, employers such as nursing homes and hospitals are debating whether to require their employees to be vaccinated, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Health care workers often interact with the members of society most vulnerable to severe coronavirus infections, making a particularly strong case for vaccine mandates.

  • But a much broader array of employers are also considering mandating the shots, meaning this debate will likely play out well beyond the health care industry.
  • As vaccines become less scarce, the debate is gaining steam.

State of play: At least a half-dozen long-term care companies have announced imminent vaccine mandates, per the Post.

  • Houston Methodist last week became the first health system in the country to announce that vaccination would be mandatory for its workers.
  • But other hospitals are being more cautious, instead trying to encourage workers to get vaccinated.

By the numbers: Around six in 10 health care workers support their employer requiring the vaccine. A little more than four in 10 said they'd oppose such a requirement, according to a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

  • One in six said they would leave their jobs rather than get vaccinated.

The big picture: "Everybody is thinking about it," Lorraine Martin, president of the National Safety Council, a group of 16,000 U.S. businesses and organizations, told the Post. "A lot of companies are calling each other, trading notes, trying to land in the right place."

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