Over 50 top medical groups are urging mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers and staff at long-term care facilities as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rise in the country.
"Due to the recent COVID-19 surge and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, our health care organizations and societies advocate that all health care and long-term care employers require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, and more than 50 other health care groups said in a statement on Monday. "This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being."
The number of infections has ticked up to 51,000 cases per day on average, more than four times the rate one month ago.
Fueling its rise, in part, is the more contagious Delta variant, and vaccine hesitancy and refusal.
"Because of highly contagious variants, including the Delta variant, and significant numbers of unvaccinated people, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are once again rising throughout the United States. Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures," the statement added.
Only 59% of staff at long-term care facilities and nursing homes have been fully or partially vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, ProPublica reports.
Twenty-three individual facilities had vaccination rates of under 1%. In Louisiana, just 44.5% of the staff at its long-term care facilities have been at least partially vaccinated. Florida had a rate of just under 46%.
"This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky warned last week during a White House briefing.
"We need to sound the alarm," said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of AARP and director of its Public Policy Institute. "Nursing homes were devastated by COVID-19, and many residents remain highly vulnerable to the virus."
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