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Work Covid Vaccine Mandates Make Sense in Some Cases, Fauci Says

June 29, 2021, 4:16 PM

Workplace vaccination requirements may make sense for certain environments such as hospitals, Anthony S. Fauci told a health law group Tuesday.

“People don’t like mandates about requirements,” the nation’s top infectious diseases expert acknowledged. But in some situations, the communal concern about safety means that “it makes sense to get people vaccinated—and it’s not unprecedented.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden‘s chief medical adviser for Covid-19, made his remarks less than two weeks after a federal judge in Texas threw out a lawsuit challenging Houston Methodist Hospital’s vaccination requirement. More than 150 employees either quit or were fired June 23 for failing to follow Houston Methodist’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement.

President Biden has said he doesn’t support a national vaccine mandate. But workplaces and schools have been seen as key drivers in ramping up vaccinations.

During the American Health Law Association’s annual meeting, Christi A. Grimm, principal deputy inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, noted the association’s members may be in positions to decide whether they can require vaccinations for health-care professionals working at their facilities.

Fauci noted he has to get flu and hepatitis shots as an attending physician at the NIH Clinical Center, the agency’s research hospital. “They don’t want me to be spreading that kind of thing around the hospital,” he said. “You’ve got to balance your own concern about yourself with your societal responsibility.”

At the same time, when people express hesitation about taking the vaccine, he noted the importance of engaging in a meaningful discussion that roots out any misinformation. “You have to treat them with respect and not be finger pointing or accusatory towards them,” he said. “A lot of times the best way to get them that correct information is by utilizing trusted messengers, people in the community who they trust. That could be religious leaders, that could be sports heroes, that could be entertainment figures, or that can be just family members.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeannie Baumann in Washington at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com; Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com

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