GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — The American Medical Association says all health care employees should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
One physician in Westmoreland County says that could come in the future, but as long unvaccinated workers wear masks, the risk to patients is manageable.READ MORE: Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board Votes To End Training By Contractor Hired To Train Corrections Officers
As the COVID-19 Delta variant grows and hospitalization numbers increase, there has been a call for health care facilities to mandate vaccines for health care providers.
“For those who are not vaccinated, it is not a neutral,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. “They’re having an adverse impact on communities that are vaccinated and extending the life of the pandemic.”
Few places know that more than western Pennsylvania health care facilities, where staff vaccinations are not mandatory.READ MORE: Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Works In Kids Ages 5 To 11
“We highly encouraged it, spent a lot of time educating our employees and physicians on getting the vaccine and we’ve had pretty good compliance,” said Dr. John Sullivan, the chief medical officer for St. Clair Health.
KDKA has learned that St. Clair Health has an 85 percent vaccination rate. Allegheny Health Network and UPMC’s vaccination rates are 72 percent and 70 percent, respectively, while Heritage Valley and Excela Health have 69 percent and 62 percent vaccination rates, respectively.
“So we are watching this, but we have no immediate plans to mandate a vaccine,” said Dr. Sullivan. “Your routine mask-wearing mandated by the CDC in all health care facilities is essentially preventing any infectivity.”
Mandating vaccines for health care employees would also potentially create an exodus of workers who refuse to take it at a time when qualified health care workers are at critically low levels.MORE NEWS: 3 Medical Helicopters Called To Crash In Butler County
Finally, Dr. Sullivan said the only way to really solve the problem is to continually encourage front-line workers and the public to get the vaccine.