Polis, medical groups call for vaccine mandate for health care workers


Eli Kirshbaum


After Colorado health care organizations issued a statement last week calling for a statewide vaccine mandate for health care workers, Gov. Jared Polis followed suit on Tuesday, asking the Colorado Board of Health to expedite its rulemaking process to implement a vaccine requirement. The mandate would apply to staff who serve Colorado’s vulnerable populations and who work in places that administer essential medical care.


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In a letter to the board, Polis explained his reasoning for deciding to support such a mandate — after months of refusing to announce one. He cited the Delta variant’s continued spread and the safety of the health care workforce.

“This is a grave situation as we find ourselves staring down the far more contagious delta variant and knowing that the estimated 30-40% of unvaccinated staff provides too many opportunities for this virus to enter into these facilities.

This workforce has been through so much over the last 18 months … In order to minimize disruption to the workforce you must take a comprehensive approach to this rulemaking to ensure that if one facility has a vaccine requirement the staff does not leave to go to a facility down the road without a vaccine requirement.”

Last Thursday, the Colorado Hospital Association, the Colorado Nurses Association, and the Colorado Medical Society issued a joint statement urging the state to adopt a health care worker vaccine mandate, among other public health measures. 

  • “All health care employees should become vaccinated.
  • Join us in expressing support for health care organizations that independently adopt policies requiring COVID-19 vaccination for employees and staff, with local factors determining whether, how, and when such policies are implemented.
  • Individuals ages 2 and older should follow CDC guidelines for mask wearing indoors, especially children returning to in-person learning this fall.”

University of Colorado Health, Banner Health, and Children’s Hospital of Colorado are among Colorado health facilities that have already implemented their own vaccine mandates for employees. 

As of August 16, 63% of Coloradans have been fully vaccinated. In response to State of Reform’s request for comment, the Colorado Health board said:

“The Board of Health has authority to require vaccinations. In the health facilities setting, Board rules currently require all state licensed health care facilities to report on influenza rates of all staff. The Board of Health’s next meeting is this morning, and they will likely discuss the timing for an emergency rulemaking hearing. More information will be provided when it becomes available.”