OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Tuesday, 3 News Now spoke with White House Vaccinations Coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair. He discussed some of the details surrounding the vaccine requirements announced by President Joe Biden on September 9.
Employers with 100 workers or more will be required to make sure their employees get vaccinated or test for COVID-19 at least once a week.
Healthcare workers employed by organizations that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding will be required to get the vaccine, without the option to take a weekly COVID-19 test. Federal workers and contractors will also be required to get the vaccine.
In total, said Choucair, that’s about ⅔ of workers in the US or 100 million people.
There are concerns that employers might struggle to recruit new employees in an already tight job market if vaccines are mandatory.
Choucair mentioned that Tyson Foods, which has plants in Omaha and Council Bluffs, went from 50% of its workers vaccinated to 90% after it enacted a vaccine requirement. He also cited successful vaccination requirements at United Airlines and the US military.
“We know vaccine requirements work. We know they are the right thing to do and we know that the American public support vaccine requirements with survey after survey and poll after poll,” Choucair said.
He said that high vaccination rates reduce the likelihood of widespread outbreaks.
“We know when you’re vaccinated, and you’re surrounded with people who are vaccinated, you’re much less likely to catch the virus and much less likely to spread the virus to other people,” he said.
Choucair also emphasized the risks of going unvaccinated.
“If you’re unvaccinated you continue to be five times more at risk of catching the virus. You’re 10 times more likely to end up in the hospital, 11 times more likely to die from the virus compared to someone who is vaccinated,” he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at the Department of Labor is putting together the Emergency Temporary Standard; the rules that will guide the agency in enforcing the vaccine and testing requirements.
“Vaccine requirements in the healthcare space are not something new at all,” Choucair said.
He mentioned that as a family physician who worked in different hospital systems he always had to abide by vaccine requirements. Vaccine requirements in the healthcare space, said Choucair, protect not only the healthcare workers but also their patients, who need to feel they are safe.