State chapters and members can advocate for these issues with use of the COVID-19 Action Toolkit
Sept. 3, 2021 (ACP) -- The American College of Physicians is doubling down on its efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19 with calls for vaccination of pregnant women and individuals being held in federal immigration custody, as well as mask mandates in schools.
“The COVID-19 pandemic isn't over, and we need to be taking advantage of all of the mitigation strategies that we have,” said Shari Erickson, ACP vice president for governmental affairs and medical practice. “Combining measures like increasing vaccination rates among pregnant individuals and those who are in federal immigration custody and mask mandates in schools should help to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”
To move the needle forward, ACP recently joined with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other medical organizations to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among pregnant women along with women who were recently pregnant, are planning to become pregnant, or are lactating. Soon thereafter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all pregnant women to get vaccinated.
In addition, ACP joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and ACOG in a letter to the secretary of U.S. Homeland Security urging that the agency take further action and administer COVID-19 vaccinations to all eligible immigrants in Customs and Border Protection custody. The organizations note, “All individuals held in federal custody, regardless of immigration status, should have access to timely, evidence-based comprehensive health care -- including vaccinations protecting against COVID-19.”
The ACP vaccine policy follows the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. “They have strongly recommended vaccinations for everyone ages 12 and above, including pregnant women,” said Erickson. “In terms of vaccine mandates, ACP recognizes that they been effective and has therefore recently called for all health care and long-term care employers to require that all of their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
Mask Mandates in Schools
ACP has also voiced its support for the AAP appeal for masks in schools. “Given the uptick of the delta variant spreading across the country and internationally and the breakthrough cases, we feel it's the responsibility of the entire population to slow the spread for those who are not able to achieve vaccination at this point, and this includes masks in school,” Erickson said.
Advocacy for COVID-19 vaccines and for implementing mitigation efforts, such as masks, can also be done at the state level. ACP provides a COVID-19 Action Toolkit, which contains a section on masks and masking, Erickson noted.
ACP urges members to appeal to state governors to require the use of masks in public facilities, manufacturing and retail establishments, public transportation, and other workplaces and to enforce mask requirements as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy, Erickson said. The tool kit includes a sample letter that chapters can customize to encourage federal, state and local officials to subsidize or directly provide face masks to the public. The tool kit also includes important information on how chapters can advocate for equitable distribution of vaccines.
The COVID-19 Action Toolkit is available on the ACP website.