Leading health experts and professional organizations: Businesses should support OSHA's COVID vaccine mandate

Date: Nov 18 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations, 202-777-3913 

Groups include APHA, American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association

Organizations representing the country’s doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals joined with some of the country’s most prominent health care experts to call on the business community to support the new federal requirement that those working for companies with more than 100 employees be vaccinated for COVID.

Those signing the statement include APHA and professional organizations such as: the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the National League for Nursing and the National Medical Association, plus prominent health leaders such as: Ezekiel Emanuel, Robert M. Wachter, Eric Topol, Tom Frieden, Andy Slavitt, Megan Ranney, Rick Bright, Ashish K. Jha, Luciana Borio, Uché Blackstock, Oni Blackstock, Michael Osterholm, and David Michaels.

“Instead of wasting time in court trying to overturn these mandates, business leaders should be focused on how to protect their employees from COVID through vaccination. That’s the only way we’ll be able to return to normal and stabilize our economy,” said Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized the statement. “We’ve seen over and over that employer vaccine mandates work to raise vaccination rates, and they don’t cause workforce shortages. It’s time for the business community to step up and show the leadership our nation needs now.”

Vaccines are extremely effective in preventing COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Compared to the vaccinated, the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die. Any risk in receiving the vaccine is considerably less common and less serious than the consequences of contracting COVID.

Together, we will emerge from this pandemic with a trove of lessons learned about how public health is all of us.

“The available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the widespread use of these vaccines is the best way to keep COVID-19 from spreading within workplaces. The more workers who get vaccinated, the closer we are to slowing the spread of the virus and creating a safer environment for everyone,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, whose organization filed an amicus brief last week to preserve OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate temporary standard. “We know that vaccine mandates work, they result in more people getting vaccinated. Now is the time for the public and private sectors to come together, listen to the science, and mandate vaccination so we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“When we first required health care workers to be vaccinated a few months ago, we anticipated some push back, but the results have been astonishing: nearly all health care workers have received their shots, and now our health care facilities and patients are better protected,” said Elena Rios, MD, MSPH, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association. “We’re at a critical crossroads in the pandemic where we have the ability to prevent the needless loss of lives and livelihoods, we just need more people to have the will to do so. It’s clear all employers should protect their workforces and their communities.”

“We cannot get this pandemic under control without increasing the vaccination rate,” said Wachter, Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “And, at this point, the most effective way to do that is through mandates – which will protect workers and create safer workplaces. We encourage all employers to voluntarily enact this mandate as soon as possible.”

OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard on Nov. 4, 2021 that established binding requirements for employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their workers are either fully vaccinated or tested for COVID at least once per week. The rule would go into effect on Jan. 4, 2022 and cover 84 million U.S. workers. National business industry organizations have since sued the Biden Administration over the requirements. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit temporarily halted the mandate.

The joint statement and full list of signatories:

Statement Supporting OSHA’s COVID Vaccination or Testing Requirement

Tragically, over 750,000 Americans have died of COVID since the beginning of 2020.1 Many thousands have died from COVID contracted on the job, such as while caring for patients, supporting the elderly, preparing food for customers, selling goods in stores, and protecting the public from crime, fires, and other threats.

For example, in North Carolina nearly a quarter of COVID clusters are linked to workplace, retail and food settings.2 COVID has also inflicted many other societal harms including loss of educational achievement and job opportunities, and increases in mental health challenges and social isolation, all of which have disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable.3,4

To overcome COVID and the highly transmissible Delta variant, and return to “normal,” we need to substantially increase the vaccination rate from its current level of under 60 percent. We need to vaccinate about another quarter of the American population, roughly 80 million more people.

Vaccines are effective in preventing COVID cases, hospitalizations and, most importantly, deaths. Compared to the vaccinated, the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die.5 A recent study shows that in the United States, vaccines are five times more effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization than a previous COVID infection.6 Any vaccine risk is considerably less common and less serious than the consequences of contracting COVID.

Finally, we know that vaccine mandates are effective. When employers require workers to get vaccinated, vaccination rates increase to over 90 percent.7-9 This is especially true for people who intended to get vaccinated but have just delayed or procrastinated. Courts have repeatedly supported the legality of employer mandates.

We — physicians, nurses and advanced practice clinicians, health experts, and health care professional societies — fully support the requirement that workers at companies with over 100 workers be vaccinated or tested. This requirement by the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reasonable and essential to protect workers.

We encourage all businesses with 100 or more employees to not delay in implementing this standard.

Requiring masks for all unvaccinated workers by the December 5th deadline will be key to keeping customers and fellow workers safe during the holiday shopping and travel season. And getting workers vaccinated or tested by the January 4th deadline will further protect workplaces and communities, bringing us closer to normal life and the end of this pandemic.

From the first day of this pandemic, businesses have wanted to vanquish this virus. Now is their chance to step up and show they are serious. Implementing these commonsense OSHA standards is an important step for our workers, businesses, and the nation as a whole.

Signatories

Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP)
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI)
American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM)
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE)
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST)
American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)
American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG)
American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (ACOEP)
American College of Physicians (ACP)
American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM)
American College of Surgeons (ACS)
American Epilepsy Society (AES)
American Geriatrics Society (AGS)
American Medical Association (AMA)
American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA) 
American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)
American Public Health Association (APHA)
American Psychiatric Association (APA)
American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) 
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
American Society of Hematology (ASH)
American Society of Nephrology (ASN)
American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO)
American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)
American Thoracic Society (ATS)
Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC)
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
Association of Bioethics Program Directors (ABPD)
Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON)
Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN)
College of American Pathologists (CAP)
Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS)
Doctors for America (DFA)
Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA)
Illinois Pharmacists Association (IPhA)
Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)
National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP)
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)
National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA)
National League for Nursing (NLN)
National Medical Association (NMA)
National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC)
New Hampshire Nurses Association (NHNA)
Nurses Who Vaccinate (NWV)
Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN)
Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS)
Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA)
Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO)
Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM)
Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP)
Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR)
Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI)
The John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF)
The Patient Is U Foundation (TPIU)
Transcultural Nursing Society (TCNS)

Nahid Bhadelia, MD, MALD
Founding Director, Boston University Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research

Uché Blackstock, MD
Founder and CEO, Advancing Health Equity

Oni Blackstock, MD, MHS
Founder and Executive Director, Health Justice

Luciana Borio, MD

Rick Bright, PhD
Former U.S. HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Director of BARDA

Esther Choo, MD, MPH
Professor of Emergency Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University

Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, FACEP
Assistant Professor | Emergency Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine

Natalie Dean, PhD
Assistant Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Carlos Del Río, MD
Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine
International Secretary for the National Academy of Medicine 

Mark Dybul, MD
Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University
Former Head of PEPFAR and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD
Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania

Jeremy Samuel Faust, MD, MS
Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine/Division of Health Policy Public Health
Harvard Medical School

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH
President and CEO, Resolve to Save Lives

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD
Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology
Yale University 

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, Brown University School of Public Health

Krutika Kuppalli, MD, FIDSA
Chair, Global Health Committee
Infectious Diseases Society of America

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA
President Emerita, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Syra Madad, DHSc, MSc, MCP
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Boston University

David Michaels, PhD, MPH
Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health 2009-2017

Michael Joseph Mina, MD, PhD
Epidemiologist, Immunologist and Physician

John P. Moore, PhD
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medicine

Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD
Director, Yale Institute for Global Health 

Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH
Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health; Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota

Saskia Popescu, PhD, MPH, MA, CIC
Assistant Professor, Biodefense Program - Schar School of Policy and Government  
George Mason University

Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH
Professor of Emergency Medicine & Associate Dean of Strategy & Innovation, School of Public Health & Alpert Medical School, Brown University

Irwin Redlener, MD, FAAP
Senior Research Scholar, Earth Institute at Columbia University
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Andy Slavitt, MBA
Former White House Senior Advisor COVID Response
Former Acting CMS Administrator 

Craig Spencer MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Population and Family Health
Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Eric Topol, MD
Executive VP and Professor, Scripps Research

Seth Trueger, MD, MPH, FACEP
Northwestern University

Robert M. Wachter, MD
Chair, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Michelle A. Williams, ScD
Dean of the Faculty, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, & Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home[Accessed 12 November 2021].  
2. NC Department of Health and Human Services. COVID-19 Clusters in North Carolina. https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/media/725/download [Accessed 12 November 2021]. 
3. Dorn E, Hancock B, Sarakatsannis J, Viruleg E. COVID-19 and learning loss - disparities grow and students need help. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-learning-loss-disparities-grow-and-students-need-help [Accessed 12 November 2021]. 
4. Czeisler M, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 69(32);1049-1057.  https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm [Accessed 12 November 2021].
5. Sullivan P. CDC data: Unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated. The Hill. https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/576980-cdc-data-unvaccinated-11-times-more-likely-to-die-from-covid-19-than-fully[Accessed 12 November 2021]. 
6. Bozio C, et al. Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Among Adults Hospitalized with COVID-19–Like Illness with Infection-Induced or mRNA Vaccine-Induced SARS-CoV-2 Immunity — Nine States, January–September 2021. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 70(44);1539-1544.  https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7044e1.htm?s_cid=mm7044e1_w [Accessed 12 November 2021].  
7. Hirsch L. After Mandate, 91% of Tyson Workers Are Vaccinated. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/30/business/tyson-foods-vaccination-mandate-rate.html [Accessed 12 November 2021].   
8. Marcos C. United Airlines to Fire Workers Who Refused to Get a Vaccination. The New York Times. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/29/business/united-airlines-vaccine-mandate.html [Accessed 12 November 2021].   
9. Hubler S. ‘Mandates Are Working’: Employer Ultimatums Lift Vaccination Rates, So Far. The New York Times. Available from:  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/30/us/california-vaccine-mandate-health-care.html [Accessed 12 November 2021].  

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.