The Arkansas Medical Society Board of Trustees has adopted the following health policy statement encouraging physicians and health care workers to be champions of the vaccine in their communities. The AMS policy statement has already received the backing of the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association and more medical organizations are expected to do the same.
“The physicians of Arkansas are deeply concerned about their patients and the citizens of our state as we continue to wage a battle with the COVID-19 virus and its highly contagious variants. Our ethical obligations, as well as the ethical obligations of most health care workers, teach us to always put patients first. To live up to that moral and ethical standard, it is imperative that we lead by example and take a stand in support of required vaccination for health care workers.
That ethical commitment demands that we take appropriate precautions to ensure that our fellow physicians and other health care workers are protected from the virus. In doing so, this will allow us to continue performing our patient care responsibilities while also protecting our families, our patients, and our communities. More critical, is the need to protect the more vulnerable citizens of our state, including unvaccinated children, hospital patients, residents of long-term care facilities and those who are immunocompromised.
For these reasons, the Arkansas Medical Society supports requirements for physicians and all other health care workers to become vaccinated against COVID-19.
The evidence of safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines is unmistakable and mounting. By August 2021, over 1 million Arkansans were fully vaccinated (over 163 million Americans), with minimal side effects. Even more striking is the fact that, according to the Arkansas Department of Health, 98% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in our state between January and July were among people who had not been vaccinated.
As physicians, we also recognize our responsibility to educate our patients and our communities on scientifically valid treatment protocols for patients testing positive for COVID-19 and provide factual and substantiated information on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of this deadly virus. As part of that effort, it is imperative that health care workers lead by example and get the vaccine. In doing so, not only do we preserve our long-term ability to be there for our patients, but we also set an example to the citizens of our great State of Arkansas that the vaccine is not only safe but – lifesaving.”