Pharmacists have been on the front lines of patient care throughout the pandemic, leading efforts to immunize millions of people across the nation and serving as medication use experts. Yet, in many communities, due to highly contagious variants, including the Delta variant, the number of cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise once again.
ASHP, in collaboration with nearly 100 organizations and societies, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, took an important step by calling for all healthcare and long-term care employers to require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The American Hospital Association issued a similar statement strongly urging the vaccination of all healthcare personnel against COVID-19 to protect patients and communities.
ASHP applauds healthcare employers that have recently called for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for their employees. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they are requiring frontline care workers to be vaccinated or face possible termination. The Mayo Clinic made a similar announcement, with employees facing weekly testing and education if they choose not to be vaccinated. Other entities, including California and New York, are also requiring certain employees and contractors to be vaccinated or face weekly testing. While we recognize some healthcare personnel cannot be vaccinated due to medical and religious reasons and therefore should be exempted from a mandate, they represent a small number.
As pharmacy professionals, we are focused on keeping our patients healthy and optimizing their medication use. Patients at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection should feel confident that they are not facing additional risk for infection when they see their healthcare providers, which is why ASHP is calling for all healthcare employers to require their employees, with some exceptions, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
As medication experts and trusted healthcare providers in our communities, pharmacy practitioners have an opportunity to promote vaccine education, boost vaccine confidence, and lead by example. By following the science and getting vaccinated themselves, pharmacists can set a positive example for their patients and healthcare colleagues.
ASHP is a strong supporter of community vaccination to promote public health, including required vaccination of healthcare providers. ASHP is also working with the Get the Medications Right Institute (GTMRx) on those initiatives, including releasing a recent report, Background and Resources to Build Vaccine Confidence in the Health Neighborhood. ASHP has a professional policy that promotes annual influenza vaccination for healthcare workers. To advance patient safety and public health, the policy advocates that hospitals and health systems require healthcare workers to receive a yearly influenza vaccination and encourages hospital and health-system pharmacists to take the lead in developing and implementing policies for vaccinating healthcare workers and in providing education on the patient safety benefits of annual influenza vaccination.
Be sure to visit our COVID-19 vaccine webpage and our COVID-19 Resource Center, which include tools, resources, and other support for healthcare professionals.
I also encourage you to visit ASHP’s consumer website, SafeMedication.com, which has a dedicated COVID-19 section with a wealth of information for patients, including topics like vaccines, treating mild cases of COVID-19 at home, and a recently published article about variants, including the Delta variant.
I could not be more proud of the crucial role our profession continues to play to advance public health and safety throughout this pandemic. Thank you for supporting ASHP and for all that you do for your patients and our profession.