AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on federal vaccine requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):
“The AAMC is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the medical community’s broad support and upheld the federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for federally-supported hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care settings where some of the most vulnerable patients receive care. However, we are disappointed that the federal government will not be able to enforce vaccine or mask-and-test requirements for workplaces with 100 or more employees.
The science is unequivocal. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death when dealing with all coronavirus variants. Vaccine requirements help the nation continue to combat the spread of the pandemic. The experience of AAMC member institutions demonstrates that an overwhelming majority of employees get vaccinated after a requirement is instituted, contributing to the health and safety of patients and staff alike.
Preventing OSHA from enforcing this regulation while challenges continue may result in unnecessary loss of lives and will continue to strain the nation’s health care workforce. We urge OSHA to work without delay to revise the regulation with sufficient specificity to protect those working in close proximity to others, and then re-release it so that the intended vaccine or mask-and-test requirements can move forward. Given the court’s conclusion that OSHA lacks specific statutory authority to require vaccination because the threat of COVID-19 is not limited to the workplace, we urge Congress to take prompt legislative action to ensure OSHA has the requisite authority to protect employees from all grave hazards of the workplace. Finally, we urge employers to take independent action to protect their employees from the potential threat of exposure to COVID-19 at work by requiring vaccination, where permitted by law, or imposing regular testing and masking policies.
In light of today’s decisions, the AAMC will continue to work with policymakers at all levels, and the public, to increase the number of people getting vaccinations and boosters, increase federal support for testing, and improve health in communities across the country.”