More than 60 health care associations and medical groups, including the American Medical Association, on Thursday called on private employers to voluntarily enforce President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate ahead of the holiday season.
"We — physicians, nurses and advanced practice clinicians, health experts, and health care professional societies — fully support the requirement that workers at companies with over 100 workers be vaccinated or tested," the organizations said in a joint statement reported by the Washington Post. "This requirement by the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reasonable and essential to protect workers."
The Biden administration's vaccine requirements were issued on Nov. 4, and American companies were given until Jan. 4 to come into compliance with the mandate or face penalizing fines. But Republican-led states, businesses, and legal groups challenged the requirements in court, arguing that the administration overreached by issuing an unconstitutional mandate. Last week, a federal appeals court blocked OSHA's rule from taking effect, and the Biden administration has suspended enforcement of its mandate pending further litigation.
Regardless of the court order, the White House has urged businesses to go ahead and implement the vaccine rules voluntarily, citing the need to have more people vaccinated to protect the community at large from COVID-19 this winter.
In their joint statement, the health care associations agreed with the government, arguing that COVID-19 spread has been linked to workplace, retail, and food settings.
"To overcome COVID and the highly transmissible Delta variant, and return to 'normal,' we need to substantially increase the vaccination rate from its current level of under 60 percent," the groups said. "We need to vaccinate about another quarter of the American population, roughly 80 million more people."
"Requiring masks for all unvaccinated workers by the December 5th deadline will be key to keeping customers and fellow workers safe during the holiday and shopping season. And getting workers vaccinated or testing by the January 4th deadline will further protect workplaces and communities, bringing us closer to normal life and the end of this pandemic," the groups said. "From the first day of this pandemic, businesses have wanted to vanquish this virus. Now is their chance to step up and show they are serious."
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have moved forward to challenge Biden's vaccine mandate under the Congressional Review Act, which permits Congress to overturn rules issued by administrative agencies if a majority of both houses oppose them. The Senate is expected to vote on the rule in the coming weeks, but with Democrats in command of majorities in both houses, it is unlikely BIden's rule will be overturned.