Kentucky health system among latest to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for workers

University of Louisville (Ky.) Health will require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, making it among the latest health systems to do so.

"We are proud to share that approximately 70 percent or more of our team members and providers have already received the vaccine," Tom Miller, CEO of UofL Health, said in a May 26 news release. "However, as a healthcare organization, we need to do even more."

Team members and providers, including residents, fellows and rotating students, must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 1.

UofL Health said it also is requesting that long-term contracted staff, such as food and nutrition services, environmental services and security, be fully inoculated.

New hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before they can begin work at the health system.

"The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the FDA are extremely safe and effective," Jason Smith, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for UofL Health, said in the news release. "There are very, very few medical reasons a person would not be able to receive this vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is available throughout the U.S., and now those 12 years old and above are eligible. We recommend our team members and providers schedule and get the vaccine as soon as you can — not only for yourself, your colleagues, and patients, but for those you love as well."

The health system is allowing medical and religious exemptions, as it does for the flu vaccine. After Sept. 1, those who do not have an exemption may be subject to disciplinary action, said UofL Health, adding that the date was picked because full FDA approval of at least one of the COVID-19 vaccines is expected by then.

UofL Health is among the latest health systems to mandate vaccination for workers.  

Philadelphia's six-hospital University of Pennsylvania Health System revealed May 19 that it will make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all employees and clinical staff. And West Orange, N.J.-based RWJBarnabas Health is now requiring supervisors and above to be vaccinated for COVID-19, with plans to eventually extend the mandate to all employees.

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.

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