Approaches to Healthcare Personnel Exemption Requests from COVID Vaccination: Results of a National Survey

Thomas R. Talbot, Susan E. Beekmann, Hilary M. Babcock, Philip M. Polgreen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: While a growing number of healthcare facilities are implementing healthcare personnel (HCP) COVID-19 vaccination requirements, vaccine exemption request management as a part of such programs is not well described. Design: Cross-sectional survey Participants: Infectious disease (ID) physician members of the Emerging Infections Network with infection prevention or hospital epidemiology responsibilities Methods: Eligible persons were sent a web-based survey focused on hospital plans and practices around exemption allowances from HCP COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Results: Of the 695 ID physicians surveyed, 263 (38%) responded. A majority of respondent institutions (160, 92%) allowed medical exemptions, while a smaller majority (132, 76%) allowed religious exemptions. In contrast, only 14% (n = 24) allowed deeply held personal belief exemptions. The types of medical exemptions allowed varied considerably across facilities, with allergic reactions to the vaccine or its components accepted by most facilities (145, 84%). For selected scenarios commonly used as the basis for religious and deeply held personal belief exemption requests, most institutions would not approve exemptions focused on concerns regarding right of consent or violations of freedom of personal choice (144, 83%) or those focused on introducing foreign substances into one's body or the sanctity of the body (140, 81%). A majority of respondents noted plans for additional infection prevention interventions for HCP who received an exemption for COVID-19 vaccination. Conclusions: While many respondent institutions allowed exemptions from HCP COVID-19 vaccination requirements, there was variability in the types of exemptions allowed and how the exemption programs were implemented.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Exemption
  • Healthcare personnel
  • Immunization
  • Mandatory
  • Requirement
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination

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