2 Baltimore health systems to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for workers

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The University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine, both based in Baltimore, will require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, making them the latest health systems to do so. 

"We follow the science, and the scientific evidence tells us that from a safety and efficacy standpoint, COVID-19 vaccines represent a dramatic accomplishment and a clear pathway out of this pandemic," Mohan Suntha, MD, president and CEO of the medical system, said in a June 9 news release. "As healthcare professionals, we accept that we hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we embrace our mission to devote ourselves to the welfare of those in our care. COVID-19 vaccines are by far the best way to stop the spread of the virus, and given our ethical obligation to our patients, we must take every appropriate measure to keep our hospitals and other locations as safe as possible."

The University of Maryland Medical System will require COVID-19 vaccination for those at the manager level and above by Aug. 1, and current and new employees beginning Sept. 1. The medical system operates 13 hospitals and a network of urgent care centers in Maryland and has more than 29,000 employees. 

The medical system will provide exceptions for medical conditions, religious beliefs and pregnancy. Weekly COVID-19 testing will be required for team members and partners, including contractors, volunteers and students who remain unvaccinated, the medical system said. COVID-19 vaccination will become a requirement for all team members and partners once a shot is granted full FDA approval. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine is taking a similar approach, requiring its clinical and nonclinical personnel to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 1. 

"Every person who is vaccinated helps to bring an end to this pandemic," Paul Rothman, MD, dean of the medical faculty for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a June 9 news release. "Since Johns Hopkins Medicine first offered the COVID-19 vaccine to our personnel in December 2020, we know that more than three-quarters of our workforce have been vaccinated. To avoid a rise in viral transmission as restrictions are lifted, we need as many people vaccinated as possible."

Johns Hopkins Medicine's policy applies to faculty, staff, temporary staff, students, postdoctoral fellows, house staff, providers, volunteers and vendors.

Johns Hopkins workers will be able to securely submit documentation indicating their vaccination status via a portal, where they also may request religious or medical exemption.

Under the Johns Hopkins Medicine policy, weekly COVID-19 testing will be required for workers who remain unvaccinated after Sept. 1.

The news from the two Baltimore-based systems comes as Maryland hospitals and health systems signed a statewide consensus statement to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers. Each organization will set their own vaccination deadline.

This story was updated at 12:13 p.m. CST June 11.

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