Ahead of special Supreme Court hearing, amicus briefs provide medical perspective for judges considering challenges to mandates for health care workers and employees at large companies
Jan. 7, 2022 (ACP) — The American College of Physicians is joining with other organizations to urge judges in three crucial court cases to support vaccine mandates.
In each case, ACP is taking firm stands in support of public health -- all positions that are in alignment with ACP policies. At stake are federal requirements that health care workers, federal contractors and employees at companies with more than 100 workers get vaccinated against COVID-19. On Jan. 7, the Supreme Court will hold a special hearing about challenges to the most wide-ranging mandates -- those requiring vaccines for general employees and health care workers.
As reported in The New York Times, the general employee mandate “would affect more than 84 million workers and is central to the administration's efforts to address the pandemic. The administration estimated that the measure would cause 22 million people to get vaccinated and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations.”
The Labor Department Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the mandate—with some exceptions—in November. A court battle erupted immediately as states and other critics sued to stop the regulation from going into effect.
ACP joined with the American Medical Association to sign onto a “friend of the court” brief that provides guidance to judges. ACP often joins with other medical organizations to sign amicus briefs that address important legal matters regarding medicine and public health. The goal of these actions is to speak out to judges as a united front representing the American medical community.
Vaccines are a crucial tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prevent additional strain and excessive burden on the capacity of the American health care system. Specifically, ACP supports appropriate federal and state regulations to increase vaccination rates.
As ACP policy states, “during a pandemic or other public health emergency for highly transmissible diseases that might result in severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths which could be prevented or reduced by requiring safe and effective vaccinations, the American College of Physicians supports appropriate federal and state regulations to expand vaccination rates, including requiring employers and government agencies to mandate that their employees show proof of age-appropriate vaccination.”
The legal brief states that “COVID-19 poses a grave danger to public health” and says that eliminating the OSHA mandate would “severely and irreparably harm the public interest.”
In another legal brief, ACP joined with 11 other leading medical organizations to urge judges to support the federal mandate via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that health care workers must be vaccinated.
The other brief signers include the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Geriatrics Society, American Medical Women's Association, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society for Echocardiography, American Society of Hematology, American Thoracic Society and American Lung Association.
“As the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise … especially among unvaccinated persons, requiring that all health care workers who can get vaccinated receive a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect them, their patients, loved ones and others who are vulnerable and immunocompromised,” said Dr. George M. Abraham, president of ACP.
The brief states that “immediate, widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is the surest way to protect healthcare facility staff, patients, and the public and to end this costly pandemic.”
Finally, ACP joined with the American Medical Association and other organizations to support a vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors. Several states have challenged the rule.
ACP believes that it is important to protect the precedent that heightened workplace safety standards are important to protect the public's health and well-being. ACP policies state that ACP supports “requiring organizations that receive government funding to show such proof of vaccination by their employees and contractors.”