LeadingAge joined 56 other healthcare professional associations Monday in calling for a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for long-term care and other healthcare workers.

The societies and organizations collectively represent millions of workers throughout long-term care and healthcare — including employees of independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities; nursing homes; and home care agencies and hospice programs; as well as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, public health workers and epidemiologists. LeadingAge represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers.

“We stand with the growing number of experts and institutions that support the requirement for universal vaccination of health workers,” the groups said in a joint statement. “While we recognize some workers cannot be vaccinated because of identified medical reasons and should be exempted from a mandate, they constitute a small minority of all workers. Employers should consider any applicable state laws on a case-by-case basis.”

Existing COVID-19 vaccine mandates have proven effective, the groups said, noting “historical mistrust of health care institutions,” however. “We must continue to address workers’ concerns, engage with marginalized populations, and work with trusted messengers to improve vaccine acceptance,” they said in the statement.

Nursing home staff vaccination rates vary widely across the country, with a national rate of just over 61%, according to LeadingAge. Senior living employee vaccination rates are more difficult to calculate because the settings are regulated primarily at the state level rather than the federal level, and they do not have a national reporting requirement similar to the one that exists for nursing homes.

Katie Smith Sloan
Katie Smith Sloan

“As COVID-19 variants emerge and proliferate, it’s critical that we protect everyone who lives and works in long-term care, by ensuring staff are fully vaccinated,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement issued with the joint statement. “Throughout the pandemic, long-term care providers have demonstrated their dedication, commitment and bravery in the face of unprecedented, challenging circumstances. They must heed the scientific evidence and do everything possible to deliver safe, quality care to the older adults and others they serve.”

In a separate statement issued Monday, LeadingAge said: “As the most effective tool to protect from the virus, COVID-19 vaccination should be a condition of employment for all healthcare workers, including employees, contract staff and others, with appropriate exemptions for those with medical reasons or as specified by federal or state law.”

Among other groups that have made similar calls for mandatory vaccination include AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, which was among seven professional organizations representing long-term care and other clinical specialists that earlier this month released evidence-based recommendations that COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory for U.S. long-term care and other healthcare workers. The American Hospital Association last week also announced its support of mandatory employee vaccination policies for all healthcare workers. 

Several senior living companies already have COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place. Last week, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, one of the largest not-for-profit long-term care companies in the country, told its employees that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1. In addition to Good Sam, among the senior living companies with vaccine mandates for employees are Aegis LivingALG SeniorAmerican House Senior Living CommunitiesThe Arbor Co.Atria Senior LivingBenchmark Senior Living, Civitas Senior LivingEnlivantFive Star Senior Living, Harbor Retirement Associates (for new employees), IntegraCareIntegral Senior Living, JEA Senior LivingJewish Home FamilyJuniper CommunitiesMasonicare, Pacific Retirement ServicesPresbyterian Senior LivingRetirement Center ManagementSilveradoSunrise Senior LivingTrilogy Health ServicesTrinity HealthVi Living and Wesley Enhanced Living

The groups signing Monday’s joint statement (listed alphabetically):

Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy

American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Nursing

American Academy of Ophthalmology

American Academy of PAs

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Association of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

American Association of Clinical Endocrinology

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association of Neuroscience Nurses

American College of Clinical Pharmacy

American College of Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American College of Surgeons

American Epilepsy Society

American Medical Association

American Nursing Association

American Pharmacists Association

American Psychiatric Association

American Public Health Association

American Society for Clinical Pathology

American Society for Radiation Oncology

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

American Society of Hematology

American Society of Nephrology

American Thoracic Society

Association for Clinical Oncology

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

Association of Academic Health Centers

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of Rehabilitation Nurses

Council of Medical Specialty Societies

HIV Medicine Association

Infectious Diseases Society of America

LeadingAge

National Association of Indian Nurses of America

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Council of State Boards of Nursing

National Hispanic Medical Association

National League for Nursing

National Medical Association

National Pharmaceutical Association

Nurses Who Vaccinate

Organization for Associate Degree Nursing

Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Philippine Nurses Association of America, Inc.

Society of Gynecologic Oncology

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Society of Hospital Medicine

Society of Interventional Radiology

Texas Nurses Association

The John A. Hartford Foundation

Transcultural Nursing Society

Virgin Islands State Nurses Association

Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society