Indian Health Service
Yesterday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra announced that staff at the Indian Health Service who serve in federally-operated health care facilities and interact with, or have the potential to come into contact with, patients will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
In response to that announcement, the Indian Health Service acting director released a Special General Memorandum to establish Indian Health Service policy requiring COVID-19 immunizations for all personnel working in an Indian Health Service health care facility.
All Indian Health Service employees, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers, contract staff, temporary employees, students, and volunteers who work, visit for official duties or provide direct care in a federally-operated Indian Health Service health care facility will have until October 1, 2021, to receive two doses of COVID-19 vaccine in a two-dose series, or one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in a single-dose. Limited exemptions apply to those who have a valid medical or religious exemption on file.
This directive is aimed at protecting the health and safety of our workforce and patients, and the vaccines are the best tools to achieve this goal. With more than 4.54 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide, we have enough data to know the vaccines are highly safe and effective in protecting against severe disease and hospitalization.
COVID-19 vaccination of healthcare workers is a new public health priority, and due to the recent COVID-19 delta variant surge and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, several health care organizations and societies have issued a joint statement in support of mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers. Vaccination policies such as this one have been successfully used to achieve high vaccination rates and implemented in a growing number of private and public healthcare facilities.