Ascension to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

Ascension, a 149-hospital health system based in St. Louis, will require COVID-19 vaccination for its 160,000 employees.

Tens of thousands of Ascension workers have already been vaccinated, but more must be done to overcome the pandemic, the health system said July 27.

"Like many health systems across the country, including in many of our markets, we are moving to require our associates to be vaccinated against COVID-19," Ascension said in a news release. "Ascension conducted a thorough moral and ethical analysis as part of the decision-making process. 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."

Ascension's requirement will apply to workers who provide direct patient care, as well as those who work in health system sites of care or remotely. This includes workers employed by subsidiaries and partners; physicians and advanced practice providers (employed and independent); and volunteers and vendors entering health system locations.

Ascension said employees have until Nov. 12 to complete the vaccine series and meet the vaccination requirement, in line with the timing of the annual flu vaccination requirement. Employees may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. The requirement will be implemented in accordance with contracts reached between Ascension business entities and unions representing Ascension workers, the health system said.

Ascension is among several hospitals and health systems in the U.S. to announce vaccination mandates. The health system operates care sites in 19 states and Washington, D.C. 

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