University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Won’t Require Staff to Take COVID-19 Vaccine Due to ‘General Uncertainty’
“Until we learn more and build our own experience...it’s not the right thing to make it mandatory”
UPMC requires its health care employees to receive the flu vaccine. But while the vast Pittsburgh-based health system is enthusiastic about COVID-19 vaccine, it won’t immediately require its employees to get it.
The main reason is general uncertainty about the COVID-19 vaccine — the first of several vaccines in the pipeline could receive emergency approval from the U.S. government this month, possibly within days. UPMC is preparing to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine to front-line health care workers as soon as this month.
Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology, said UPMC’s mandatory flu vaccination policy “is based on decades of experience with the influenza vaccine.”
But there’s no comparable data for a COVID-19 vaccine, or on whether a mandate is the best way to get large numbers of people to become vaccinated, Snyder said on Tuesday.
The first COVID-19 vaccine, from Pfizer, is expected to soon receive emergency approval. A second vaccine, from Moderna, is also expected to soon receive emergency approval. Distribution of at least one vaccine is expected to begin this month.
Snyder said UPMC is “very excited about the preliminary information we have about how safe the vaccine is and how it will work.”
Still, he said UPMC will conduct its own review of the vaccines before injecting any of its employees.
“Until we learn more and build our own experience with this vaccine, plus, until we see the uptake of vaccine in our communities, and have an understanding about the role that vaccination has in ending this pandemic, it’s not the right thing to make it mandatory,” he said.
He said UPMC’s independent review won’t slow down distribution plans.
UPMC doctors on Tuesday outlined their plans for receiving and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Overall, they offered an enthusiastic assessment of the COVID-19 vaccine and said they plan an information campaign to persuade the public to get vaccinated.
Vaccine manufacturers began large scale production of their COVID-19 vaccines even as they carried out clinical trials that could potentially prove their vaccine unsafe or ineffective. The purpose was to be able to immediately begin distributing vaccine deemed safe and effective.
Snyder said some of the vaccine trials have taken place in Pittsburgh, with some UPMC employees participating.
He said some have experienced side affects such as fever, fatigue or arm pain, with some needing to take a day or two off from work.
He called this “a normal and healthy immune response.”
Source: Penn Live