Biden Extends Vaccine Mandate to Health Care Workers
By Amy Lynn Sorrel

US capitol

Texas Medical Association staff are busy analyzing President Joe Biden’s latest strategy to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, which includes vaccination requirements for health care workers in all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities. 

The main focus of the Path Out of the Pandemic plan announced late last week: Getting more people vaccinated. 

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said President Biden, who also appealed to the nation’s physicians for their help. 

“You are the most trusted voice for your patients,” he said. “America needs your personal involvement in this critical effort.” 

The sweeping plan includes a combination of mandates and incentives that: 

  • Through an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency rule, require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19, and to provide paid time off to get vaccinated;
  • Require vaccinations for federal workers and contractors;
  • Require vaccinations for clinical staff, volunteers, and other health care workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, home health agencies, and other facilities including nursing facilities; and
  • Through the Department of Education and federal funding measures, support vaccination and masking in schools. 

Immediately responding, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to issue emergency regulations next month requiring COVID-19 vaccination for staff at hospitals and other facilities. Meanwhile, the agency appealed to facilities to “make efforts now to get health care staff vaccinated to make sure they are in compliance when the rule takes effect.” 

Emphasizing the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines and other available treatments and protocols, President Biden also said his plan will: 

  • Increase the availability of testing and masking;
  • Make more health care workers available to hospitals facing capacity issues;
  • Expand access to monoclonal antibody therapy;
  • Support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) timely and scientific review of vaccines for children under age 12; and
  • Provide access to booster shots for anyone eligible, pending approval from FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

On the economic front, the strategy creates a new loan program for small businesses and extends loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program. 

TMA staff are reviewing the new plan and will comment on related OSHA, CMS, and other regulations once they’re released. Read Texas Medicine Today for future analysis. 

And for help promoting vaccines among your patients, check out the resources in TMA’s Vaccines Defend What Matters campaign.

Last Updated On

September 13, 2021

Originally Published On

September 10, 2021

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