Sanford Health announced Thursday that it is making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all its employees, citing the spread of more contagious variants.
The Sioux Falls, SD-based health system, which operates extensively in Minnesota and the Dakotas, requires all workers to be vaccinated by November 1. More than 90 percent of clinicians and 70 percent of nurses in the organization are already fully immunized, system officials said.
“It’s the right thing to do for our patients and residents, individuals and communities,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford. “As increasingly contagious variants of COVID-19 continue to spread and threaten our communities, we must do all we can to protect each other and our loved ones. “
The American Hospital Association on Wednesday announced its support for hospitals and healthcare systems that implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for healthcare workers.
Sanford has 46 hospitals, 1,500 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care centers in 26 states and 10 countries. Its Minneosta operations include nearly a dozen hospitals and numerous clinics, as well as more than two dozen Good Samaritan Society assisted living facilities.
Dr Doug Griffin, Sanford vice president and medical officer of health in Fargo, said a final decision had not been made on the possibility of time off for those who refused the vaccine, but said “they would not work. not”. He said the deadline gives employees “a lot of time” to get vaccinated and that many of those who haven’t been vaccinated are probably waiting for a warrant.
Sanford employees are already required to have several other vaccines, including annual flu shots that are also due to be completed by November 1. As with all vaccines, the hospital will allow certain medical or religious exemptions from the coronavirus vaccine.
“Almost all new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are in unvaccinated people, and overwhelming data confirms that vaccines are not only safe, but the best and most reliable way to prevent transmission of the virus. Said Dr Jeremy Cauwels. , Chief Medical Officer of Sanford.
North Dakota’s vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that less than 40 percent of the state is fully vaccinated. Reproductive health doctors from across the state held a virtual town hall on Wednesday in an effort to dispel misinformation about the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on fertility and pregnancy.
More than 53% of people in Minnesota and 46% of people in South Dakota are fully vaccinated, reports the CDC.
“We’re a long way from where we need to be,” Griffin said.
MPR News contributed to this report.
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