Healthcare workers should be required to get COVID-19 vaccine

After almost a year with COVID-19, Moderna and Pfizer have been able to produce and begin to distribute vaccinations in the U.S. For many who have been following the CDC’s guidelines of social distancing and wearing masks, the introduction of an effective vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel after such a difficult year. However, according to NPR, about a third of healthcare workers said they would refuse the vaccine. The vaccine should be mandatory for healthcare workers to continue working in their profession because it has been authorized for use, has been successful, and is an extra protection to slow down the spread and save lives.

According to a fact sheet for recipients of the vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, while unapproved by the FDA, has been authorized for emergency use. Although people may be scared by the fact it has not yet been approved by the FDA, the vaccine offers extra protection to fight against this disease. In order for the Pfizer vaccine to be approved by the FDA, the company will need to continue clinical testing to collect more data for review, according to the FDA. The FDA also reports that extensive testing had to be done already in order for the vaccine to be approved for emergency use, and the vaccine has already gone under rigorous data review. While the vaccine was released quickly, the FDA has done adequate safety testing to make sure that it is both safe and effective.

Usually vaccines can take five to nine years to create and distribute to the public, and for COVID-19, we have been able to develop one in under a year. This should not be a concern for the public because the reason vaccines take so long is because of all the obstacles researchers face. It can take many years to find and keep continual funding, lab resources, and approval from the FDA, but this vaccine was able to be created quickly because they finally had sufficient resources to speed parts of the vaccine development process.

The vaccine is similar to the implementation of many of the CDC guidelines as a way to slow the spread and prevent people from getting infected. The vaccine has seen a 94% success rate in the higher risk group, which includes the 65 plus age range, according to a Pfizer press release. Health care workers have to be around older and high risk patients almost constantly, so they can better protect their staff and patients by getting vaccinated and having extra support to prevent the spread.

Additionally, healthcare workers are required to be around sick and immunocompromised patients as a part of their job. Making the choice to not receive the vaccine will be detrimental to communities because of the high amount of contact health care workers have with the public. According to Dr. Marina Bergman, a pharmacist at the Ohio State University, “Staff are required to receive all major vaccinations including annual flu vaccines and will be asked to not come into work until they have proof of vaccination.” The COVID-19 vaccine should be added to the list, since the job already requires them to be up to date on their major vaccines. They are compromising their staff and patients by choosing to not get the vaccine, all while continually aiding in the spread of this disease.

Some may argue that it should remain a choice because of fears about getting COVID-19 from the injection. Vaccines in the past such as measles, mumps, and chicken pox have contained live viruses that have the potential to infect someone with the disease, according to Medline plus. However, according to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine which cannot become a live virus and can only build the immune response to fight against the virus if infected.

Throughout the course of this pandemic, we have learned the true resilience of our communities to brave such unprecedented times. With the requirement of a vaccination for healthcare workers, we can hope for less of a strain on the hospital system itself and the staff who have been working tirelessly to save lives. Coming together and starting with mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers will mean everyone’s hard work over the course of the year has paid off. The days of recovery we have been hoping for are finally in our sights.