Massachusetts system withdraws bivalent booster requirement

Pittsfield, Mass.-based Berkshire Health Systems has withdrawn its COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster mandate for employees, according to a statement shared with Becker's.

The decision comes after the health system put the requirement in place Oct. 24.

In its statement, Berkshire points to recent data showing the bivalent booster to be as much as 70 percent to 80 percent effective at reducing the severity of COVID illness, but that it may be less effective at preventing virus transmission.

"This expected change in efficacy in preventing transmission requires that we renew our focus on masking and other similar protocols as the primary measures to protect patients and co-workers from transmission," the statement read. "Additionally, because BHS maintains safe care environments and adapts as necessary to evolving data, emerging variants of the virus, novel treatments and prevention strategies, and shifting laws, regulations and guidance from public health agencies, we are withdrawing the bivalent booster requirement."

Berkshire said it still strongly recommends all employees and patients be vaccinated with the bivalent booster dose.

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