For months, Sanford Health physician leaders have praised the work of biomedical research and development teams for what they’ve called a “game changing” vaccine that has effectively protected millions of Americans against the coronavirus.
Now, Sanford Health is among the first in the region to require the vaccine for its workforce.
The announcement was made to all employees in an e-mail July 22.
“This is the right thing to do for our patients and residents, people and communities,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “As more contagious COVID-19 variants continue to spread and threaten our communities, we must do everything we can to protect each other and our loved ones.”
Jeremy Cauwels, M.D., chief physician at Sanford Health, said Sanford Health needs to protect its people and its communities.
“Since the emergence of COVID-19, Sanford Health has led the way through every stage of the pandemic, and we should be proud of how we’ve come together to safely care for our communities and each other,” Dr. Cauwels said. “Nearly all new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people, and the overwhelming data confirms that the vaccines are not only safe, but the best and most reliable way to prevent transmission of the virus.”
Schedule your vaccination: COVID-19 vaccine at Sanford Health
Across Sanford Health, health care providers have been leading by example by choosing to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. More than 90% of clinicians and 70% of nurses are fully vaccinated.
Sanford Health employees already are required to have several other vaccines including the annual flu shot. Under the new policy, any COVID-19 vaccine received in the past 12 months will qualify for the 2021 requirement. Unvaccinated employees can get their COVID-19 vaccination at any time but must report it by Nov. 1, 2021. All unvaccinated employees are encouraged to get their shots as soon as possible. As with other vaccines, Sanford Health will allow certain exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
A day before Sanford’s announcement, the American Hospital Association announced its support of hospitals and health systems that implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for health care personnel. Since then, more than 50 major medical organizations issued a joint statement endorsing mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for all workers in health and long-term care.
Dr. Cauwels said the vaccine is the most important way to fight against the coronavirus, short circuit this pandemic and get back to normal life.
“We didn’t come to this conclusion lightly or hurry to make this decision,” Dr. Cauwels added. “We carefully watched the science. We carefully watch the safety. We carefully watched not only the national data, but our own local data. We’ve come to the conclusion that this is absolutely the safest way to move forward, the safest way to take care of our people, the safest way to take care of our patients, the safest way to take care of our residents. In doing so, we hope we can deliver people the best health care we possibly can.”
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