With a new variant of coronavirus being watched closely and staffing challenges being a major concern for most medical practices, keeping workers safe as the nation heads into a third winter of COVID-19 is of great importance.
While the definition of “fully vaccinated” is debated as booster shots of mRNA vaccines become more commonplace throughout the United States, most medical practices are in good shape for meeting potential federal vaccination mandates.
A Dec. 7, 2021, MGMA Stat poll finds that 38% of medical practices have less than 90% of their workers vaccinated against COVID-19. Of the remaining 62% of organizations with the highest rates of staff vaccination:
- 21% are 100% vaccinated
- 27% have 99% to 95% of workers vaccinated
- 14% have 94% to 90% vaccinated.
The poll had 1,015 applicable responses.
These numbers follow an MGMA Stat poll in late August that found almost half (46%) of medical practices would require COVID-19 vaccination status for their employees after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received full FDA approval on Aug. 23. That poll signaled a shift from a poll done only weeks earlier, which found only 18% of practices mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for workers, while another 69% recommended vaccinations and only 13% had no policy in place.
The latest poll also shows the limited extent to which further vaccination mandates might have in worsening the staffing crisis facing most of the healthcare industry. An Oct. 5, 2021, MGMA Stat poll revealed that only 38% of medical practices have had staff quit or terminated due to COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Federal mandates on hold pending court challenges
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and OSHA separately issued rules intended to boost vaccination rates among the nation’s workers; however, court-ordered injunctions have put the federal mandates on hold pending appeals.
- For the latest on these developments, access MGMA’s federal COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandates FAQ.
On Dec. 2, CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality informed state survey agency directors that enforcement of the CMS interim final rule is suspended while an injunction is in place from a U.S. district court in Louisiana. The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) filed an appeal to that decision last week.
In the case of the OSHA emergency temporary standard (ETS) focused on large employers, a decision is pending from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District after OSHA announced it suspended enforcement following a motion to halt the ETS on Nov. 12.
Additionally, the federal contractor mandate was put on hold Dec. 7 following a ruling from a federal judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
Despite the legal limbo around the federal COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandates, the move by the Biden Administration to press for more employer requirements has been followed by a continual shift toward more workplace COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
As reported by Fierce Healthcare, a Willis Towers Watson survey of more than 500 employers in November found 57% require workers to be vaccinated or plan to implement a vaccination requirement.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that about 75.7% of people ages 5 and older have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine (as of Dec. 8, 2021). Public health records point to COVID-19 being responsible for about 788,000 American deaths, and all 50 U.S. states are listed as having substantial or high levels of community transmission as of this writing.
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- MGMA COVID-19 Federal Assistance and Advocacy Center — Stay up to date on the latest waivers, regulatory updates and relief available to medical practices throughout the pandemic.
- MGMA Stat: Measuring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic — Find all our COVID-19 data stories going back to the start of the pandemic.