Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), released a statement on Monday on MHA’s stance on hospital vaccine mandates. Peters could not directly comment on what hospitals in Michigan should do, but he confirmed that requiring vaccinations for health care workers was something that hospitals can legally do to protect their workers and patients.
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Here is the official statement:
“The most important thing we can do as Michigan healthcare leaders right now is get as many people vaccinated as possible. The data is clear that a vaccination is the single best way to prevent further COVID-19 mutations, illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. Right now, only 63.9% of Michigan residents 16 and older have received their first shot. This does not provide herd immunity to protect our younger kids or other immune compromised residents. We must, as healthcare leaders, take appropriate measures to increase vaccination rates as quickly as possible.
While there are many commonly used strategies, tactics will vary across communities. To that end, the MHA has a longstanding, strict policy of not commenting on the business or operational decisions of our individual member hospitals and health systems. However, we can confirm that vaccine mandates for healthcare employees are one tool in an employer’s legally protected toolbox to improve vaccination rates and protect their workforce and patients. Health systems implementing these requirements do so with a long history of enforcing staff mandates for flu and Tdap vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge in every community across our state, every day. We urge every Michigander to get a full vaccine regimen as soon as they can, especially as the highly transmissible delta variant becomes more dominant throughout the country. This is the only way to fully protect our children and vulnerable family and friends and ensure our state can return to a long-term new normal.”
At Henry Ford Health System, the requirement will take effect on Sep. 10, 2021 and applies to all team members, students, volunteers, and contractors. Henry Ford Health System was the first health system in Michigan to institute a vaccine mandate for its workers. Wright Lassiter III, president and CEO, said:
“We acknowledge the magnitude of this decision and we did not make it lightly. As a leader and trusted voice in our communities, our patients and members depend on us to create a safe, healthy environment. We owe that same promise to our team members. Safety and infection prevention are everyone’s responsibility.”
Spectrum Health will require the vaccines for its employees within eight weeks of the FDA approving the first vaccine. Beaumont Health also intends to require the vaccine after full FDA approval of one or more of the current vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hopes to give full approval sometime next month, according to The New York Times.
Liam Sullivan, infectious disease specialist at Spectrum Health, said:
“We continue to see the benefits of the vaccine — both among our patients and teams. Almost all people who contract COVID-19 and need hospitalization or die from the virus are unvaccinated. The delta variant of COVID-19 is causing significant increases in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in areas across the country where vaccination rates are low. We encourage people to be vaccinated, in consultation with their physician’s advice.”