Washington, DC / The National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) applauds the recent announcement by the Biden Administration to require employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. NHMA calls on all employers of essential workers, regardless of size, to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.
As cases of the contagious Delta variant surge, essential workers are continuing to be put at risk, especially by the unvaccinated. Despite the recent full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, unvaccinated essential workers face a greater risk of exposure in the workplace. This subsequently puts them and their loved ones at increased risk of hospitalization and death.
The Hispanic/Latino community not only has higher than average rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19, but they also make up a large portion of the essential workforce. Over half of Hispanic/Latinx workers have jobs that require working in-person, and they are more likely to use public transit and not have employer-provided health insurance. This makes essential workers more likely to catch the virus without having the needed insurance to help combat it.
NHMA also calls for the Administration, Congress, and employers to allow essential workers to take the needed paid time off to receive the vaccine and recover without penalty.
The pandemic has emphasized the need for COVID-19 prevention education and paid medical and family leave as an important part of public health. Essential workers need the ability to care for themselves and their families when they are sick or recovering from a medical procedure. As an important part of the economy, they should not have to choose between their health and getting a paycheck.
Hispanic/Latino workers face greater disparities when it comes to access to paid leave and the ability to afford to take unpaid leave. Employers must ensure that vaccine mandates do not cause greater harm by punishing essential workers for having to miss work in order to get the vaccine and recover from any side effects.
Already, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is creating a rule to have employers provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination.
Dr. Elena Rios, MD, MSPH, FACP, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association states, “Essential workers are heroes and we all rely on them to keep essential services running during this pandemic. Now, the most important thing employers can do is support essential workers by removing barriers to COVID-19 vaccination,”
For more information on NHMA please visit our website https://www.nhmamd.org/
Established in 1994 in Washington, DC, the National Hispanic Medical Association is a non-profit association representing the interests of 50,000 licensed Hispanic physicians in the United States. NHMA is dedicated to empowering Hispanic physicians to be leaders who will help eliminate health disparities and improve the health of Hispanics.