CommonSpirit Health becomes the latest in a growing list of healthcare providers to require its workforce to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the number of hospitalizations due to current surge continues to rise.
The health system announced Thursday employees at all 140 of its hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites across 21 states must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 as a condition of their employment but will make available exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
"As healthcare providers, we have a responsibility to help end this pandemic and protect our patients, our colleagues, and those in our communities—including the most vulnerable among us," Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit said in a statement. "An abundance of evidence shows that the vaccines are safe and highly effective. Throughout the pandemic we have made data-driven decisions that will help us best fulfill our healing mission, and requiring vaccination is critical to maintaining a safe care environment."
CommonSpirit marks one of the largest providers to implement an employee vaccination mandate, following similar actions already taken by fellow giant health systems Kaiser Permanente and Ascension Health.
Approximately a quarter of U.S. hospitals have instituted policies that require employees to get vaccinated. The move toward mandates comes at a time when the spread of the Delta variant of the virus is threatening hospitals capacity in several states.
The federal government continues to move in this direction as well. HHS Thursday announced it will require employees who provide care or services for patients to get their COVID-19 shots. The move will impact more than 25,000 clinicians, researchers, contractors, trainees and volunteers with the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. It applies to employees who regularly interact with patients or whose duties could put workers in contact with patients.
The seven-day average for hospitalizations was more than 64,000 between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 36% jump over the previous average seven-day rate from July 28 to Aug. 3.