National association supports mandating vaccinations

The American Hospital Association said last week it supports hospitals and health care systems that mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for personnel.

Vaccinations are not required for the 2,770 employees at the North Olympic Peninsula’s three public hospitals — Forks Community Hospital, Jefferson Healthcare hospital and Olympic Medical Center — although many have voluntarily been vaccinated.

“To protect all patients, communities and personnel from the known and substantial risks of COVID-19, the American Hospital Association (AHA) strongly urges the vaccination of all health care personnel,” the organization said in a prepared statement (aha.org).

“COVID-19 vaccines protect health care personnel when working both in health care facilities and in the community. They provide strong protection against workers unintentionally carrying the disease to work and spreading it to patients and peers,” the statement said.

“The AHA also supports hospitals and health systems that adopt mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for health care personnel, with local factors and circumstances shaping whether and how these policies are implemented.”

Jennifer Burkhardt, general counsel and human resources manager for Olympic Medical Center, said the hospital is “in alignment with” and supports the AHA statement.

“The AHA only offers its ‘support’ for hospitals and health systems who choose to adopt mandatory vaccinations, and the AHA offers recommendations in the event that choice is made,” Burkhardt said Friday in an email.

“The support from AHA is positive,” Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson Amy Yaley said in an email.

“Our hope is that active declarations of support for the vaccine, such as the AHA’s, will encourage everyone in our community to vaccinate. Especially as we see the positive cases rise, particularly in the unvaccinated.”

Forks Community Hospital CEO Heidi Anderson said the impact of the Hospital Association’s position was unclear.

“I do not know how it will affect [Forks Community Hospital] until it comes into play as a mandate,” she said in an email.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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