In recent weeks, there have been outbreaks of the coronavirus among staff at veterans health care centers in Little Rock, Baltimore, Orlando and Chicago, causing staff shortages and forcing the department in some cases. to take emergency measures.
About 70 percent of workers at health care centers in the department have been fully immunized, which is above the national average but not enough to satisfy authorities given the dangers to veterans, who tend to be older. , sicker and perhaps more vulnerable to disease. “Our clinicians say we need more numbers than that,” McDonough said.
He has repeatedly expressed fears in recent weeks that centers with low vaccination rates endanger the health of ex-combatants seeking treatment. He said he did not know if any veterans had been sickened by workers in health care centers. To date, 146 department employees and 12,679 veterans, including 4,237 hospitalized patients, have died from complications from the coronavirus.
Understanding the State of Vaccination Mandates in the United States
Like many state and local governments, the department recently struck a deal with its employee union to offer workers four hours of paid administrative leave if they prove they have been fully immunized. “It was a big milestone,” McDonough said. “But I think now, given what we’re seeing in terms of disease trend lines, this is the next significant step. “
Other countries are considering mandates in general to increase vaccine acceptance. In France, Parliament this week approved a law requiring a “health pass” that shows proof of a full vaccination, recent negative test or recent Covid-19 recovery to enter restaurants or bars and for long distance travel.
Greece imposed vaccines on all hospital workers in mid-July and banned access to restaurants, bars and indoor cinemas for unvaccinated people, which sparked protests. Italy is also moving forward with a vaccination mandate.