COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for Pennsylvania health system

Philadelphia's six-hospital University of Pennsylvania Health System will make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all employees and clinical staff, the health system said May 19.  

A spokesperson told Becker's employees and clinical staff are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by no later than Sept. 1. New hires must provide proof of at least one dose two weeks before beginning work. There are exemptions for medical or religious reasons, similar to the health system's long-standing flu vaccine policy.

"As an institution grounded in the science and art of healthcare, we believe it is imperative for the University of Pennsylvania Health System to take the lead in requiring employee vaccinations to protect our patients and staff and to set an example to the broader community as we work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic," the health system said.

As of May 19, all University of Pennsylvania Health System employees and clinical staff have been offered the vaccine, and more than 33,000 of them (nearly 70 percent) are fully vaccinated. 

"Evidence is clear that COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be very safe and highly effective at preventing transmission, hospitalizations and death from the virus," the health system said. "The transformational mRNA technology discoveries at Penn which laid a foundation for the first COVID-19 vaccines are a tremendous point of pride, which further buoys our confidence in the science that is now being deployed to save lives across the globe."

University of Pennsylvania Health System is the latest organization to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Great Falls, Mont.-based Benefis Health System said it made the vaccine mandatory for about 250 employees working in senior services. Employees who are not exempt are required to get their second doses by July 1.

Additionally, Houston Methodist rolled out its mandatory vaccination policy March 31, with April 15 as the deadline for managers to receive at least one dose or get an exemption. More than 99 percent of the management team had complied by the deadline. By June 7, all 26,000 employees are required to have received the vaccine.

Other health systems have decided not to mandate the vaccine for employees while the shots are only FDA-approved for emergency use.

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