A number of large medical groups and senior citizens’ organizations have come together to require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare and long-term care workers. This national pressure on a mandate comes at a time when a new and more contagious strain of coronavirus – the Delta variant – is making the news.

“The Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky reporters at a briefing Thursday. “It’s one of the most contagious respiratory viruses that we know and that I’ve seen in my 20-year career.”

Nearly 60 organizations, including LeadingAge, said in a joint letter this week that vaccination is a natural extension of the general commitment of health workers to ensure the well-being of long-term care recipients.

While providers have stepped up their efforts to get vaccinations for employees and seniors, more still needs to be done, according to Katie Smith Sloan, President and CEO of LeadingAge.

“As COVID-19 variants emerge and multiply, we can start saving more lives today by making sure employees are fully vaccinated,” she said in a separate press release. “The association encouraged members to make vaccines a condition of employment for all healthcare workers … with exceptions for those with medical reasons or under federal or state law. The statement stressed that the vaccines had been shown to be safe and effective in preventing infection, reducing the spread of the virus and reducing the risk of serious illness or death.

LeadingAge, headquartered in Washington, DC, is an association of nonprofit providers of retirement services.

In addition to LeadingAge, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association are among the other organizations that signed the letter.

Notably, the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), two of the leading home care groups in the United States, are missing from the list

In particular, the NAHC has spoken out against false reports that their organization has participated in the demand for mandatory vaccinations.

While the organization encourages people to get vaccinated, it also emphasized its belief that health care providers must be able to choose how best to serve their patients’ interests and respect the sensitivities of their staff, according to an NAHC statement to home health care news.

“Since this public health emergency began, NAHC and its members have been at the forefront of providing the latest and greatest information on the dangers of COVID-19 and the value and effectiveness of vaccines,” NAHC wrote in the statement. “This important work continues. The NAHC board has made a public commitment to take the vaccine as soon as it is available to them, and everyone has kept that promise. NAHC and its members will continue to advocate full vaccination of every person in home care, home health, and the hospice through education, persuasion, and incentives. “

In general, home care workers are among the least vaccinated in the healthcare sector.

Only 26% of home care workers had received a COVID-19 vaccine by March a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Washington Post. That was 66% of the employees in hospitals, 64% of the employees in outpatient departments and 50% of the employees in nursing homes or supervised care facilities.

At the time, the survey found that a lack of employer effort was one of the many factors that contributed to lower vaccination rates among home health workers.

Even so, several home care providers have established strategies to help interested employees with vaccination.

Overall, the delta variant quickly spread across the United States. According to the CDC, the virus is now responsible for more than 83% of the cases sequenced.