A major infection control organization has endorsed vaccine mandates as a condition of employment in healthcare.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology on Wednesday expressed its support for hospitals and health systems that require all employees and clinical team members to get a COVID-19 shot.

“APIC applauds healthcare organizations for taking this bold patient safety step,” said 2021 President Ann Marie Pettis, BSN, RN. “Low healthcare staff vaccination rates put vulnerable populations at risk of contracting COVID-19. As healthcare professionals, we have an ethical responsibility to protect those individuals entrusted to our care.” 

The advocacy group has tracked a growing number of health systems and hospitals that now insist on vaccination. Senior living and skilled nursing organizations also appear to be warming up to making the shots mandatory, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living have reported. 

Voluntary vaccination policies are not a sure path to herd immunity in healthcare facilities, APIC noted. When organizations do choose to require vaccination, however, they often see dramatic increases in vaccination rates, it said.

“Vaccination is the single most effective strategy we have to stop the spread of this virus — including the more dangerous variants — and to prevent needless suffering, hospitalization, and death,” APIC concluded.

The spread of the COVID-19 Delta gene variant, meanwhile, is prompting U.S. public health officials and others to rethink guidance on other infection control measures as well, such as mask wearing.