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Internists Say Administration’s Efforts to Continue Fight Against COVID are Critical

Statement attributable to:
George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, MACP, FIDSA
President, American College of Physicians

WASHINGTON, D.C. December 2, 2021 –The American College of Physicians (ACP) supports the actions that President Biden announced this afternoon to renew our country’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We are facing rising infection rates in much of the country, a waning effectiveness of vaccines, and the discovery of new variants that may present new challenges; all while we are also expecting a potential additional increase in infections after the holidays. It is important that we come together to ensure we are most effectively using the tools we have to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

ACP agrees with the administration’s efforts to increase vaccination rates. This includes encouraging all adults who are already vaccinated to seek booster shots. We know that the effectiveness of vaccines has decreased since many adults received their original doses, especially against some of the variants. A booster shot is the best way to ensure that the vaccines continue to protect against infection. Related to this, we strongly support the call for employers to grant paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and deal with the short-term side effects of vaccination. ACP previously called for this in policies supporting employers and schools requiring vaccination. Additionally, we are encouraged by efforts to distribute more vaccines globally. We will not be able to fight the pandemic effectively if we are not ensuring that everyone is protected.  We also support Medicaid coverage for vaccine counseling visits for children. ACP has been vocal this year in calling for a similar provision under Medicare. Physicians are a trusted resource for their patients, that is why patients who have questions about vaccines have been encouraged to have a discussion with their personal physician. We need to ensure that the physician’s time for these complex and sensitive discussions is reimbursed.

ACP also supports continuing to encourage and increase the use of measures, outside of vaccines, that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 infections. We agree with the administration that masks should continue to be required on public transportation. We also believe that improving coverage for and availability of testing is critical. The only way to know that you need to isolate is to know that you have an infection. We need to make it as easy as possible for individuals to determine whether or not they are infected.  We also believe that it is important to encourage the use of evidence-based treatments for those who do become infected. Finally, we support the increased use of COVID-19 Surge Response Teams, or rapid response teams, and strengthening our national volunteer emergency response corps. Both of these measures are vital to being able to resume activities while better responding to any local outbreaks.

We are encouraged that the administration understands the seriousness of our current state in the COVID-19 pandemic. ACP believes that the measures announced today will be a substantial help in trying to bring infection rates under control. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our patients and the public to fight COVID-19.

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 161,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.