Beaumont Heath became the second health system in Michigan to announce Wednesday that it will require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Spectrum Health made a similar announcement earlier in the day.
There are now a half-dozen health systems with employees in Michigan, as well as the Veterans Health Administration, that will require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Beaumont Health has more than 33,000 employees, eight hospitals and 155 outpatient sites. Its mandate will apply to all employees, volunteers and providers who practice or work at Beaumont facilities. It is being implemented because of the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant among unvaccinated people and to protect the safety of patients, employees and providers, the health system said.
Like Spectrum Health, the mandate will go into effect after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration fully approves one or more of the current vaccines, which Beaumont Health said is expected early this fall.
“However, if the positive rate for the surrounding communities begins to spike or Beaumont experiences a fourth pandemic surge, the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandated before full FDA approval,” according to the health system.
Right now, COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are being given to American adults under an emergency use authorization. Both Pfizer and Moderna have applied to the FDA for full authorization.
“We have a duty to protect our patients and our staff. The Delta variant is the most contagious form of COVID-19. It spreads much faster than the original version of the virus. We want all Beaumont team members to stay healthy. The vaccine is the only safe and effective way to truly protect against COVID-19,” Beaumont Health CEO John Fox said.
Team members must be fully vaccinated within six weeks of full FDA approval of any viable COVID-19 vaccine, the health system said.
“Team members who do not meet exemptions and refuse to get vaccinated will initially be suspended,” according to a release. “Those who choose not to be vaccinated will no longer be allowed to work at Beaumont.”
Additional details regarding Beaumont Health’s policy is to be shared in the coming weeks.
The health system joins a growing number of hospitals in Michigan and across the U.S. to require all employees to get a coronavirus vaccine.
Ascension Health, which operates 15 hospitals, outpatient clinics and doctor’s offices with more than 20,000 employees in Michigan, posted the policy change to its website Tuesday.
All Ascension employees, whether they work on site or remotely will be required to get vaccines, along with volunteers, vendors entering the health system’s facilities, and associates who work for Ascension subsidiaries and partners. Workers will have to meet the requirement by Nov. 12.
Spectrum Health’s mandate will apply to the Grand Rapids-based health system’s more than 31,000 workers at 14 hospitals, as well as those who work for its health plan, Priority Health, along with students, volunteers and contractors.
But the requirement will not go into effect at Spectrum Health until eight weeks after the FDA grants full approval of at least one of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S.
“We agree with the science behind the vaccines and the facts related to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines,” Spectrum Health said in a statement. “We expect the FDA approval will provide additional reassurance for team members about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.”
However, like Beaumont Health, Spectrum Health may opt to mandate vaccines sooner “if it sees a risk to team member and public health as a result of the delta variant, or subsequent variants, based on data in our local communities,” the statement said.
Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health are proposing to merge, and if approved, would be the largest health system in Michigan.
Henry Ford Health System, Trinity Health, OSF HealthCare and the Veterans Health Administration facilities all previously announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for workers.
The news comes as concern grows about the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, and after 50 national health care organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, issued a joint statement earlier this week in support of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all workers in health and long-term care.
This week, vaccine mandates were announced in California and New York City, where government workers will be required to either get COVID-19 vaccines or submit to regular testing.
On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced the state will require all state government employees either be vaccinated or get tested regularly, and President Joe Biden is weighing a similar plan for all federal workers.
There has been some opposition to the mandates among health care workers. Earlier this month, there were protests outside Henry Ford Health System and Trinity Health.
Contact Christina Hall: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
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