John Hebert, owner of Hebert Rexall pharmacy shows the difference in size between the (left to right) Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vials. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Hospital Association wants the state to mandate that all health care workers get the COVID-19 vaccine once the federal government grants full approval for the vaccines.

Health care worker vaccination data show wide variations in vaccination rates among the state’s hospitals and nursing homes.

“We would prefer if there is a mandate, that we want the mandate to cover all health care providers,” said Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association. “Job No. 1 for us, however we can get it done, is to get them vaccinated.”

A blanket requirement would prevent health care workers who don’t want the shot from switching jobs to employers who do not mandate the vaccine. Such clusters of unvaccinated workers could lead to more outbreaks, Michaud said.

The vaccines currently in use — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — were approved in 2020 and early 2021 by the FDA under an emergency use authorization. Studies showed the vaccines worked, and have worked safely and effectively as they’ve been given to millions of people worldwide starting in December.