Veteran Affairs requiring medical staff to get vaccinated. Will hospitals and businesses be next?

October 02 2021 06:00 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Veteran Affairs announced Monday they will require all medical staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision was made after a group of dozens of medical organizations released a joint statement they believe all medical workers should be required to get the vaccine. The VA becomes the first federal agency to mandate it.

During UAB’s Q&A on Monday, Dr. Jeannie Marrazzo addressed the news. She says it may not be long before hospitals and other practices mandate it as well.

But we wanted to know if businesses in the area will require the vaccine for employees. According to MotionMobs, a software development firm in Birmingham, they plan to see how the VA and potentially other medical practices handle a vaccine mandate before making such a decision.

“So, really looking to follow their lead as a company on how they mandate the vaccine,” Consultant Jennifer Fisher said.

Fisher says they are encouraging workers to get the shot. She says they are eager to get back to working at their office full time soon.

“And just really kind of researching what’s appropriate in order to get back to work,” Fisher said.

With the recent surge in cases, some hospitals in the area like DCH in Tuscaloosa have considered requiring their medical staff to be vaccinated.

“Well, really all hospital employees because they are going in and out of areas where someone might be infected,” Andy North with DCH said.

North says they are offering extra vacation days as an incentive for employees to get the shot. He says if cases continue to rise and hospitals become overrun, they want to have their staff safe and healthy.

“Our numbers are going up again across the state and it’s going to be a very difficult time for the hospitals and we really need your help,” North said.

Experts say to ensure another surge doesn’t happen, people need to use the tools available.

“The tools we have to not let that happen again are masks and vaccines,” Dr. Marrazzo said.

The VA Medical Center in Birmingham says they plan to release more information on the news soon. For more COVID-19 information from Veteran Affairs, click here.

The Tuscaloosa VA released the following statement Tuesday:

“It is our duty as a federal health care entity and the largest integrated health care system in the nation to do our part in this pandemic. VA is requiring all Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Title 38 Health Care Personnel (HCP) to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within eight weeks of publication of VHA Directive 1193. Only medical and religious exemptions will be permitted.

“COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection we have in fighting and controlling the virus, and this requirement is part of our ongoing strategy to prevent viral transmission in our health care system. The decision surrounding mandating COVID-19 vaccination among HCP is well supported by numerous medical societies. On July 13, 2021, a multi-society statement from the leading infectious diseases societies was issued in the Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology journal recommending that COVID-19 vaccination should be a condition of employment for all health care personnel. This policy will help protect our Veterans, coworkers, and loved ones who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19.”

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