Even though statistics tell us high rates of vaccination among healthcare workers are linked to improved patient outcomes and reduced absenteeism among staff, not everyone is willing, or able, to participate. Refusing to be vaccinated due to a medical contraindication or religious belief is generally accepted by most facilities. However, based on our years of experience in credentialing, IntelliCentrics can provide certain insights into vaccination requirements. We can help your facility reach a high level of vaccine compliance while still respecting the needs of all your healthcare personnel.
Because not everyone can receive all vaccinations, our credentialing systems accommodate both medical and religious exemptions. For each exemption request, we gather all the relevant documentation regarding the request (i.e., a statement from a physician or religious leader, titer results, vaccination history) into one electronic package which we forward to the facility. With all the information in one place, the facility can make the proper decision in a shorter amount of time.
Some things you may not know about exemptions:
When allowing exemptions for medical reasons, be sure to refer to the CDC’s list of allowed contraindications and precautions. The list is not only broken down by vaccine; it is also specifically designed for adults, not school-aged children. The CDC also produces a list of conditions which are commonly misperceived as contraindications to vaccinations.
Also similar to declinations, medical and religious exemptions must be reassessed each year. While a medical contraindication may not change year-to-year, advancements in vaccines are continually being improved. Recent years have seen the addition of egg-free or latex-free vaccines which give those with specific allergies the ability to be vaccinated. It’s also possible a previous medical contraindication, such as pregnancy, is no longer an issue.
As with declinations, those who are granted medical or religious exemptions to a flu vaccination are included in CMS Hospital Quality Reporting but do not count towards fulfilling required goals. Making sure every exemption is a qualified medical contraindication or valid religious belief is essential to preventing the loss of Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements.
Seven states (AK, CO, ME, MD, NH, NY, and RI) have provisions for medical exemptions for hospital employees and three (ME, MD, and NH) have provisions for exemptions due to religious beliefs. For those who work in an ambulatory care environment, only five states (CO, NY, OH, RI, and SC) have specific provisions for medical contraindications and none has provisions for religious beliefs.
Our credentialing systems allow medical and religious exemptions to be determined on a facility-by-facility basis and also provide a detailed management tool. Reports indicate the type of exemption, if the exemption is pending, accepted or denied, and who made the exemption decision. Through the tool, the administrator can set time limits on exemption decisions, add notes and automatically notify the appropriate manager or other staff person when a new exemption is requested.
By getting vaccinated, healthcare workers can protect their health, their co-worker’s health and the health of their patients. To achieve herd immunity, facilities should work to reach the highest vaccination rates possible. However, since vaccination is not an option for everyone, facilities need the flexibility to make the best decision regarding each exemption request.