Chicago, IL — The American Medical Association (AMA) today urged the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to preserve the temporary standard (PDF) for COVID-19 vaccination and testing issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In an amicus brief (PDF) filed in BST Holdings v OSHA, the AMA stated that “COVID-19 poses a grave danger to public health” and halting enforcement of the federal rule requiring workforce vaccination and testing would “severely and irreparably harm the public interest.”
The unprecedented and ongoing public health crisis caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in communities across the country, taxed hospitals to the point of rationing care, upended the lives of countless families, and killed more than three-quarters of a million people in the U.S. To end the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent thousands more needless deaths, widespread vaccination is essential.
Vaccines provide a safe and effective way to help reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The availability of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, backed by a body of well-regarded scientific evidence from rigorous clinical trials, is crucial to preventing workplace outbreaks of COVID-19. Evidence suggests that those who are fully vaccinated are less likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and are contagious for shorter periods than unvaccinated people.
The AMA regards widespread vaccination as the most effective way to protect workers from COVID-19. No other measure has been shown to reduce the risk of infection, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 to the degree that vaccination does. According to the AMA’s brief, “other mitigation measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing, remain important. They do not, however, provide the same level of protection against COVID-19 as does vaccination.”
Widespread vaccination reduces the likelihood of infections among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. This is particularly important when the workers who cannot get vaccinated, due to a medical condition, share a workspace with others. “The more workers who get vaccinated, the closer we are to slowing the spread of the virus and creating a safer environment,” stated the AMA’s brief.
Existing vaccine mandates have proven effective, and the medical community has led the way in promoting vaccinations for the health care workforce. However, leading by example is not enough to end the grave danger posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective policies that require widespread vaccination must be preserved. The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it.
The AMA is represented in BST Holdings v OSHA by Democracy Forward, a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 that litigates cases involving government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 to litigate challenges to unlawful government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and reversed dozens of harmful policies. Democracy Forward is expanding its work, building on its success to confront unlawful threats to democracy and social progress.
The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.
Robert J. Mills