In February, the Joint Commission announced that its survey standards would now include compliance with federal rules requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
This announcement followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in January to uphold the Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule. Drafted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the rule requires healthcare facilities to mandate that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. Facilities that do not comply face the loss of reimbursement for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. That is a big stick. As you know, most healthcare organizations would not survive long without government funding.
The flurry of activity around this rule provides an opportunity to consider the merits of COVID-19 vaccination for a few minutes.
When my age group was allowed to be vaccinated, I was one of the first in line at Walgreens. I’ve been vaccinated and boosted. I dutifully wear my KN95s — or at least a surgical mask. I wash my hands so often that they often look like they belong to one of the alligators living in Florida’s ponds and lakes.
Even with my diligence, I came down with a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Other members of my family did as well.
After a few tough days, I started to feel better. I was relieved. I sent a text to a good friend who is the director of nursing services for a county health department. I wanted to let her know about my case. She said, “Can you imagine it if you weren’t vaccinated?”
The truth is, the idea is too scary for me to think about. That is why I am suggesting to you that if you haven’t been vaccinated, this might be good time to think about your position on the issue, again.
If you decide to do this, consider separating yourself briefly from the rhetoric, social media posts, government activity, and talking heads on television. You might go to a favorite spot by yourself and think about you and your family. Forget about everybody else for a few minutes.
From personal experience, I’ve concluded that SARS-CoV-2 is not something to mess with. Even with the vaccine, I became infected with the virus. I am thankful that I was vaccinated.
And I’m thankful for all of you, and the hours you spend running tests to diagnose COVID-19, as well as the myriad other diseases common in our society.
I welcome your comments, questions, and opinions — please send them to me at [email protected].