Ascension Health will join a growing number of hospitals in Michigan and across the U.S. to require all employees to get a coronavirus vaccine.
The St. Louis-based health system, which operates 15 hospitals, outpatient clinics and doctor’s offices with more than 20,000 employees in Michigan, posted the policy change to its website Tuesday.
“Ascension conducted a thorough moral and ethical analysis as part of the decision-making process,” the health system’s announcement reads. “This decision is rooted in our Mission commitment to leading with quality and safety. As a healthcare provider and as a Catholic ministry, ensuring we have a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work.
“Tens of thousands of Ascension associates have already been vaccinated with the available vaccines, as have millions of people across the country and the world. But we must do more to overcome this pandemic as we provide safe environments for those we serve.”
All employees, whether they work on site or remotely will be required to get vaccines, along with volunteers, vendors entering the health system’s facilities, and associates who work for Ascension subsidiaries and partners.
Workers will have to meet the requirement by Nov. 12.
“This timing is aligned with Ascension’s annual influenza vaccination requirement and we will follow a similar implementation process,” the hospital’s statement said. “In those instances when someone may not be able to get vaccinated due to a medical condition or strongly held religious belief, Ascension will provide a process for requesting an exemption similar to the process we use for the annual influenza vaccine.
“In addition, this requirement will be implemented in accordance with collective bargaining agreements reached between Ascension business entities and unions representing our associates.”
Ascension joins four other health systems with employees in Michigan — Henry Ford Health System, Trinity Health, OSF HealthCare and the Veterans Health Administration facilities — in mandating COVID-19 vaccines for workers.
The news comes as concern grows about the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, and after 50 national health care organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, issued a joint statement earlier this week in support of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all workers in health and long-term care.
Vaccine mandates also have been put in place in California and New York City, where government workers will be required to either get COVID-19 vaccines or submit to regular testing.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter that his state “will have the strongest state vaccine verification system in the US and will require state employees & healthcare workers to provide proof of vaccination — or get tested regularly.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter the delta variant “is deadly and this city is taking it seriously.” Employees who don’t provide proof of vaccination will have to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing, he said in his tweet.
On Tuesday, several news outlets, including the New York Times, reported that President Joe Biden is considering a similar mandate for all federal workers.
There has been some opposition to the mandates among health care workers. Earlier this month, there were protests outside Henry Ford Health System and Trinity Health.
Contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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