Increased immunization rates result in a significantly decreased risk for disease in a population. That’s why government and other regulatory entities impose requirements mandating certain types of vaccines. Employee vaccine mandates are particularly important for hospitals and other healthcare workers since they are in close contact with vulnerable populations.
Below, we’ll look at the details of vaccine mandates and how hospital employee health (EH) departments have adjusted their workflows in light of new COVID-19 mandates.
What is a Vaccine Mandate?
Vaccine mandates are policies or laws that require a person to get vaccinated against a particular disease in order to participate in some form of public life. The goal is to compel people to contribute to herd immunity by decreasing the likelihood of spreading disease to others. These mandates are enforced by barring the unvaccinated from specific settings or activities, such as businesses, educational institutions, or other public places.
While vaccine mandates are designed to protect people from preventable infectious diseases, they have received some pushback. For example, attempts to establish COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the U.S. are still tied up in the court system, making it difficult for the EH departments tracking hospital and employee health to keep up with the most current recording and compliance reporting requirements.
Employee Vaccine Mandates for Healthcare Workers
Government entities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have long recommended that all healthcare workers be vaccinated against hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella.1 The ability to contract a disease from, as well as spread disease to, patients is why healthcare workers should be vaccinated.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers by March 15, 2022, unless they secure an approved medical or religious exemption by Feb. 28.2 The mandate applies to all workers regardless of whether they have contact with patients (unless 100% of their work is performed remotely). Staff vaccination rates under 100% constitute non-compliance under the rule.
The Role of Hospital Employee Health Departments in Vaccine Tracking
EH departments now have to track federal, state, and facility rules to ensure their facilities are compliant. Different dates for first and second doses, as well as boosters, make COVID-19 vaccination tracking particularly complicated, as does its overlap with flu season.
EH departments need to record all vaccination information for employees and submit it to public health departments while also following how any vaccine mandate bans (currently in effect in 13 states) or changing policies affect unvaccinated employees.3 Sixteen states with COVID-19 employee vaccine mandates have language specific to healthcare settings, dictating things like whether employees are terminated for non-compliance or subject to weekly testing if they are exempt.
It’s safe to say that keeping track of employee vaccination status is already difficult without the rules changing frequently. Luckily, there are software solutions that can automate much of this work.
Immunization Tracking Software
In addition to tracking and compliance reporting, EH departments are also responsible for establishing clear and confidential procedures for employees to maintain their vaccination compliance, processing exemption requests, communicating new guidelines to employees, and recording all of this data for reporting purposes.
With immunization tracking software, EH departments can streamline this process. A good software tool can provide the latest vaccine forms, auto-populate them with each employee’s vaccine data, and confidentially store consent forms. The software can also easily interface with other employee health tools for use in internal analytics and external compliance reporting.
Net Health’s Employee Health software and Mobile Immunization Tracking platform do all of this and more, even automatically submitting compliance reports to state registries. Visit our website to learn more about ensuring the collection of your employee vaccination information is secure, accurate, efficient, and compliant with the latest regulations.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Immunization of Health-Care Workers: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC),” December 26, 1997.
2 Becker’s Hospital Review, “24 States Must Ensure Healthcare Workers are Fully Vaccinated by March 15, CMS Says,” January 14, 2022.
3 LeadingAge, “Vaccine Mandates by State: Who is, Who isn’t, and How?” January 19, 2022.