Health care facilities prepare to follow state vaccination mandates after an additional 84,500 Covid-19 deaths in August and September. This comes as states like New York face 16% of the state's hospital staff, about 72,000 workers, still not fully vaccinated. Facilities are faced with forcing nurses to resign if they do not agree to receive full vaccinations. These requirements are expected to further current medical staffing shortages, even for hospitals with high vaccination rates.
Monday, Sept. 27, New York State required all healthcare workers to be vaccinated following the state's vaccination mandate. Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency and called on the National Guard to fill staffing shortages across the state.
Of the state's 650,000 hospital and nursing home workers, 92% have received at least one dose of a vaccine according to state officials. The mandate does not allow for weekly testing in place of vaccination or religious exemptions, although those who have applied for religious exemptions are permitted to work until Oct. 12.
The state of emergency also entails a crisis operations center for health care facilities and waived licensing requirements. This allows workers from outside of the state to work in New York and waives the registration fee to speed up the process. The mandate does not apply to medical professionals who work in state agencies that care for inmates or disabled and mentally ill patients.
The days before the vaccination deadline, New York saw some of the highest rates of vaccination among health care workers nationally. However, lawsuits and angry protests against the mandates in New York serve as a reminder of health care workers who are likely to resign as a result of the mandate.
Other states have imposed similar requirements for vaccinations. In Houston at Methodist Hospital, 153 of 25,000 employees were fired or chose to resign following a vaccine requirement. In Detroit, Henry Ford Health System reached a 98% vaccination rate after implementing a mandate. California, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are also implementing mandates for healthcare workers. For a full list of health care vaccine mandates by state click here.
Nurses have shared that while they aren't convinced they should get vaccinated, they don't want to lose their jobs. This is a positive sign for Biden's planned federal vaccination mandate for health care workers. President Joe Biden signed an executive order compelling about 100 million Americans to meet vaccine requirements. The Biden administration will also require more than 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals and facilities that partake in Medicare, Medicaid, social programs, and programs for disabled and older Americans to get vaccinations.
While some nurses have left their jobs in protest of vaccine mandates many others have left due to exhaustion.
For information and resources addressing burnout and work-related stress read our recent blog post.
Data suggests that staffing shortages are due to systemic problems in the healthcare industry that have only been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Facing staffing shortages, many facilities have had to activate emergency staffing plans, call in volunteers, and move personnel to cover shifts. It has also brought additional strain to health care workers who are asked to take on a larger workload in response to facility staffing shortages.