JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) –  The Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA) is backing COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all healthcare and long-term care employees in the state.

The announcement of support comes after Mississippi experiences a spike in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant.

As we confront this dreaded “fourth wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make decisions that help preserve and protect the health of patients and healthcare professionals and ensure our healthcare system is able to respond to the acute and chronic health needs of Mississippians. We believe one of those decisions must be for all healthcare and long-term care providers to require their employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

This most recent surge, fueled by the highly contagious and dangerous Delta variant of COVID-19, has dealt the state a crippling blow. COVID-19 cases are at their highest point since January–before vaccines were available for all adults. Hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units are rapidly filling up. And sadly, more Mississippians are dying. 

We wholeheartedly agree with the American Medical Association and more than 50 other national healthcare and public health organizations that requiring healthcare and long-term care professionals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine “is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment … to put patients first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.”  

Healthcare and long-term care professionals have been leading the way from the very beginning of this pandemic. Now is the time for us to lead by demonstrating the importance of vaccination. We also cannot risk losing any more healthcare or long-term care professionals to this virus. These workers are the foundation of our healthcare infrastructure, and if this infrastructure fails, every Mississippian suffers.

We understand some workers will not be able to receive a vaccination due to specific medical conditions, and in those unique cases, employees should be exempted. However, those cases represent a very small number of workers, and we advocate for the majority of healthcare and long-term care professionals receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

We did the hard work to flatten the curve. Now it’s rising again. Like we have done for more than a year, it’s time for healthcare and long-term care professionals to rise to the occasion and get vaccinated.

Dr. Claude Brunson, MSMA executive director