Hilton Raethel hedshot

Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO Hilton Raethel

As federal courts block COVID-19 vaccine mandates, one aging services advocate has reaffirmed its support for vaccines for the state’s healthcare workforce.

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii said its assisted living, skilled nursing, home healthcare, hospice and hospital members are committed to continued support for vaccine mandates.

The announcement comes after a Nov. 29 federal court ruling temporarily blocking 10 states from enforcing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services vaccine mandate rule, a federal judge in Louisiana expanding that ruling to all states on Nov. 30, and the stay issued by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccinate-or-test emergency temporary standard for private employers with 100 or more employees.

Both CMS and OSHA have announced they are suspending implementation of their COVID-19 vaccination mandates until further court order.

“In light of these recent federal court rulings, it’s important that we continue to make HAH’s stance clear. Mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers is the right thing to do,” HAH President and CEO Hilton Raethel said. “Our board of directors and member organizations are in agreement that vaccinations are essential to the community’s health and safety.”

HAH noted that most Hawaii healthcare facilities independently are requiring their workforces to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. Hawaii is not a party to the CMS mandate challenges and is not expected to contest the rule, Raethel said.

“As Hawaii’s representative for the full continuum of care, now is the time to, once again, publicly advocate for a safe, balanced approach to protecting the health and well-being of healthcare personnel and the patients and communities they serve,” he said. “Vaccination is considered a sound strategy for established and emerging infections, and one HAH and its member organizations endorse.”