The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for health-care workers.
Shots will be be required for physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors who work in departmental facilities or provide direct care to veterans, said VA Secretary Denis McDonough.
“It’s the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said. “Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19.
“With this mandate, we can once again make – and keep – that fundamental promise.”
Employees now have eight weeks to get inoculated.
The announcement by the VA came the same day more than 50 top medical groups in the U.S. called for health-care facilities to mandate vaccinations for their workers.
“Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures,” the groups said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many health care and long-term care personnel remain unvaccinated.”
“We stand with the growing number of experts and institutions that support the requirement for universal vaccination of health workers.”
Those issuing the joint statement include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Nursing, the American Public Health Association and LeadingAge, a nursing-home industry group.