In the interest of patient safety, many states enacted legislation requiring vaccines for healthcare workers in hospitals and clinics. Now, many of these deadlines, originally set in August, have passed or are nearing. This includes states with significant healthcare worker populations, such as New York, California, and Illinois.
In New York, vaccination mandates proved effective in motivating hesitant workers to seek out the vaccine. Reporting from the New York Times shows that as of September 27 (New York’s vaccination deadline) 92 percent of the state’s 650,000 healthcare workers had received at least one dose of the vaccine, a ten percent jump from just a week before the deadline. This surge catapulted New York to the state with the most vaccinated healthcare workers, by percentage, in the country and gave hope that larger-scale federal vaccination mandates would be effective in curbing the United State’s low vaccination rates compared to countries with similar vaccine access.
The Proliferation of a Problem
Despite this success, those who opt to not receive the vaccine are leaving the healthcare sector. This leaves a field already beset by employment shortages experiencing a sudden increase in those staffing shortages. In New York, for example, a September study by the Iroquois Hospital Association revealed a job vacancy rate for New York’s Hospitals nearly double what it was in June. This has led New York Governor Kathy Hochul to declare a state of emergency that allows the National Guard to fill in these staffing shortages.
While vaccine mandates are productive not just in keeping patients safe but in ending the pandemic and progressing public safety, the sudden resignation by healthcare workers accelerates an issue in staffing shortages that will require alternative measures to address both through medical education and policy changes. With the U.S. currently ranked 45th globally by vaccinations per capita, it may be necessary to fill staffing shortages with vaccinated healthcare workers trained outside the U.S. Already, New York is taking similar measures to combat shortages by allowing physicians outside New York, in Canada, or in other countries approved by the Department of Health to treat New Yorkers through telehealth.
Upcoming State Vaccination Deadlines for Healthcare Workers
A more immediate approach to solving the sudden healthcare worker shortage is for U.S. healthcare workers to receive the vaccine.
Are you a healthcare worker in one of these states and still need to be vaccinated? Check below for your state’s vaccination deadline. Read more about these deadlines here.
- Massachusetts – October 10 (October 31 for rest homes, assisted living residences, , hospice programs, and home care workers
- Illinois – October 14
- Oregon – October 18
- Washington – October 18
- Colorado – October 31
- California November 30 (for Adult Care Facilities and Direct Care Workers)
- Delaware – formal announcement forthcoming and available here.