Massachusetts health systems to mandate boosters for employees

Beth Israel Lahey Health and Mass General Brigham are among the major Massachusetts health systems to mandate COVID-19 boosters for their workforces, The Boston Globe reported Jan. 4. 

Cambridge-based Beth Israel Lahey Health President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD, announced the change in a memo sent to employees, which was shared with Becker's.

"To ensure we are doing everything we possibly can to protect our patients and our staff and in alignment with the CDC's recommendations, we are changing the definition of 'fully vaccinated' against COVID-19 for the purposes of our mandatory vaccination policy to include a booster shot for eligible employees," the memo stated.

Beginning March 1, a booster will be a condition of employment for Beth Israel Lahey Health employees who received a two-dose vaccine series six or more months ago or a one-dose vaccine series two or more months ago.  

Boston-based Mass General Brigham, the largest healthcare provider in Massachusetts, said in a statement shared with the Globe that their staff must also receive their booster shots by March 1 (if they became fully vaccinated before Aug. 1, 2021). The deadline for employees who became fully vaccinated after Aug. 1 is June 30.

"As a community of caregivers, we hold the patient at the center of all we do," Anne Klibanski, MD, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham, said in the statement, according to the Globe. "It is essential that we take this action to ensure the safest clinical environment for our patients and their families and our employees."

The newspaper reported that Burlington-based Wellforce, which includes Tufts Medical Center, Tufts Children's Hospital and MelroseWakefield Healthcare, said it will also require booster shots for staff, although a deadline has not been set. 

And Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is requiring that employees eligible for a booster on or before Feb. 28 to receive a booster by April 1, according to the Boston Business Journal. Other employees are required to receive one within 30 days of becoming eligible. 

The booster requirements from Massachusetts health systems come as the U.S. on Jan. 3 recorded 1,082,549 new COVID-19 cases, a global record, according to data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.  

Additionally, new daily COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the U.S. have risen 41 percent over the last two weeks, with Massachusetts seeing hospitalizations rise 44 percent during that time period, according to HHS data tracked by The New York Times

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