By DAVID EGGERT and COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press
LANSING, Michigan (AP) – Two of Michigan’s largest healthcare systems will require all employees and doctors in their hospitals and other facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Spectrum Health, a network of 14 hospitals, and eight Beaumont Health hospitals announced the warrants on Wednesday. At least five major hospital systems in the state have announced such requirements.
Spectrum, based in Grand Rapids, has 31,000 employees. Beaumont, based in Royal Oak, has 33,000 workers. They join the Henry Ford health system in Detroit, Livonia, Trinity Health and Ascension Health, which is headquartered in Missouri but has 15 hospitals in Michigan. About 70% of Spectrum’s on-site staff are vaccinated, a spokesperson said.
“We need to do everything we can to take care of each other and our community,” Spectrum CEO Tina Freese Decker said in a statement citing the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines in reducing risk long-term hospitalization, death and symptoms. âTogether, our actions will serve to save lives and shorten the impact of the pandemic – two clear benefits for the public good. ”
Spectrum and Beaumont both said their requirements would go into effect after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approves one or more of the current vaccines. Three vaccines currently have an emergency use authorization.
Full approval is expected in early fall, Beaumont said, adding that if the positive coronavirus rate in surrounding communities begins to rise or the healthcare system experiences a fourth wave of the pandemic, the term will begin sooner. . Both hospital systems cited the delta variant, a mutated and more transmissible version of the virus.
Employees and contractors who do not respect the exemptions and refuse to be vaccinated will initially be suspended and those who “choose not to be vaccinated will no longer be allowed to work in Beaumont,” the health system said.
âWe have a duty to protect our patients and our staff,â said Beaumont Health CEO John Fox. âThe vaccine is the only safe and effective way to truly protect yourself against COVID-19. ”
The announcements came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas of “heavy or high transmission.” This includes 10 of Michigan’s 83 counties, which have a nationwide low two-week overall infection rate.
The state currently requires healthcare workers to wear masks at work.
The Michigan State Medical Society, a professional group of doctors, said it supports vaccination mandates for health workers.
âMany have been vaccinated and we have made great strides in bringing life back to what it was at the start of last year,â said Dr Pino Colone, group chairman. âYet COVID is not gone. In fact, it is changing and spreading and is now infecting an increasing number of people who in most cases have not yet been vaccinated. ”
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.
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