DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s major healthcare group says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical employees could be a test for the rest of the industry.
VA employees will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated. Those in violation of the directive may face disciplinary action, up to and including removal from federal service.
“We can see what happens in their experience,” Colorado Health Care Association president and CEO Doug Farmer said. “Do they get to 100%? Are they able to do that without losing staff members and keep operating and providing care? I think if that’s what we see that will provide comfort to other organizations to do the same.”
Recent changes from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment now require unvaccinated staff in senior care facilities to test for COVID-19 daily before each shift.
“There are 70% of nursing home employees vaccinated, and in assisted living, 72% are vaccinated,” Farmer said.
Farmer said even though some health care officials want 100% vaccination rates, there are some worries when it comes to staffing.
“There is a concern as we move towards potential mandates that at this point and time, staffing is a huge issue in long term care and health care in general,” Farmer said.
Statement released from the VA secretary:
“We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because 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.”