CLEVELAND – United States Veterans Affairs hospitals are now mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all staff who interact with patients. About the weather! But our major hospital systems in Cleveland have been noticeably silent on this issue and their responsibility to ensure their employees are immunized. Why?
They may be awaiting final vaccine approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but this is not necessary to administer the life-saving intervention that these vaccines have proven and which justified their authorization for use. ’emergency.
“Primum non nocere” – first, do no harm – is a guiding principle of medical care. And doing harm is exactly what our hospitals risk by not requiring their staff to be vaccinated.
We are in the midst of a wave of the delta virus that is filling intensive care beds in states like Texas, Arkansas and Florida. Vaccination rates in Ohio are not much different from those in Arkansas and Texas, and we too in Cleveland are starting to see an upsurge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
We are fortunate to have exceptional hospitals in our area, but they should have had the insight to make vaccination mandatory much sooner. Why?
First, we must set an example for others. We don’t want people to say, “My doctor or nurse is not immune; why would I be? “
The second reason is to prevent infection of hospital workers who, during an epidemic, would need to be relieved of their jobs and quarantined if they were infected. This is so important at times when health services are stretched to the limit – as they were earlier in the epidemic, they are now in hard-hit states and as they may well be again soon. in Ohio.
But the most important reason is to protect our patients – “primum non nocere” – First of all, do no harm. A recent study from Finland suggested that poorly masked healthcare workers play a role in the epidemic transmission of the delta variant of the coronavirus in hospitals.
Best masking practices are needed and we must add to this the greater resistance to infection and staff transmission offered by vaccination.
Many leading hospitals like Yale New Haven Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Hospital, and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital have already made vaccination mandatory for their doctors and staff. And last Monday, New York State announced that all hospital and nursing home workers must be vaccinated by September 27.
Our schools are reopening for the fall. Our children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination and too many of our school districts are reluctant to require masks and have not developed adequate plans to protect their students.
Yes, children tend to do better with COVID than older adults, but to date more than 350 children have died from COVID-19 in the United States. Many pediatric intensive care units across the country are expected to fill beyond capacity as schools open. We could be in a lot of trouble.
I am surprised that our own large hospitals have not adequately prepared for this by ensuring the protection of their staff and patients through vaccination.
Dr Michael M. Lederman is Professor (Emeritus) of Medicine, Microbiology / Molecular Biology and Pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Editor-in-Chief of the Scientific Journal “Pathogens and Immunity” and a recognized authority on immunology viral.
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