Wisconsin Medical Society wants vaccine mandate at health entities

There’s a push from employers to require their workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

At Ascension, tens of thousands of employees are already vaccinated, but now, this hospital group and others are making it a requirement as COVID cases spike.

"You can still transmit, even if you are vaccinated," said Dr. Nasia Safdar, UW Health medical director for infection prevention.

The Wisconsin Medical Society, the state’s largest physician organization, is calling on all health care entities to require the vaccine.  The group cites a "330% increase" in the state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases in just the last two weeks.  

"When we are faced with something as dire as a pandemic, we have to explore all potential solutions," said Dr. Safdar.

That includes vaccine requirements.  Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reports 51.9% of eligible residents have received at least one dose.

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"There are still vulnerable groups and those are people who either cannot get vaccinated or are choosing not to get vaccinated," said Dr. Safdar.

Ascension announced it will be requiring its associates to be vaccinated by Nov. 12.  In a statement, Ascension says it impacts workers "whether or not they provide direct patient care, and whether they work in our sites of care or remotely. This includes associates employed by subsidiaries and partners; physicians and advanced practice providers, whether employed or independent; and volunteers and vendors entering Ascension facilities."

Children’s Wisconsin followed suit with similar guidelines.  Its deadline is Nov. 15.  The group’s chief medical officer said, "The vaccine is safe, effective and continues to be the most powerful tool against COVID-19."

Municipalities are also weighing in. A spokeswoman for Waukesha County said vaccination is not a condition of employment. A spokesman for the City of Milwaukee said Monday, Aug. 2, "The City is finalizing its plan for employees in the coming days.  The Mayor favors vaccination and masking requirements for employees that protect fellow workers and the public. We will have more specifics to share this week."

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