Most hospitals with mandatory vaccination requirements include all employees, contractors, volunteers and contract staff.
AURORA, Colorado – A number of Colorado hospitals are announcing that they will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by an imposed deadline.
UCHealth was the first Denver-area hospital to announce the vaccination requirement for employees, providers, volunteers and partners to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1 – those who fail to meet the policy will be made redundant, the hospital system said on Wednesday.
The hospital will grant exemptions for valid medical or religious reasons – anyone with an exemption will be required to wear a mask at all times at UCHealth facilities and be tested weekly for COVID-19.
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“After battling COVID-19 for over a year, and as the dangerous delta variant has become the dominant strain in Colorado and elsewhere, it is clear that vaccination against this disease is essential to protect our employees, as well as our patients and visitors, ”said Elizabeth Concordia, President and CEO of UCHealth.
The policy applies to all employees, medical staff, interns, volunteers, suppliers, medical students and contract staff. To date, nearly 85% of UCHealth’s 26,000 employees have received the vaccine, according to the health system.
A bonus of $ 500 will be given to any employee who is fully vaccinated before August 22.
The vaccine requirement comes as the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the country, leading to an increase in cases of the disease. UCHealth said its hospitals are now caring for around 85 inpatients with COVID-19, up from a month ago.
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A large majority of them have not been vaccinated, according to Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention for UCHealth.
“The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Barron. “The vaccines have been shown to be safe and very effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalizations, even from the delta variant.
About 94% of our hospital patients are not vaccinated, and even for fully vaccinated people who become ill, the vaccine reduces the severity of the illness. “
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UCHealth employees have the option of receiving the vaccine of their choice, which includes two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the J&J vaccine.
Banner Health said all employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1.
The statement said, in part:
“To protect patients, team members and the community, Banner Health today informed its employees that vaccination against COVID-19 will be a condition of employment. With a few exceptions, all team members have until November 1 to be fully immunized.
In a letter to Denver Health staff, the hospital said it “will implement a mandatory COVID-9 vaccination policy, effective November 1. All employees, contractors, volunteers, residents and student interns must have received a full vaccination for COVID-19 (i.e. two mRNA vaccines or one J&J vaccine).
The statement said the hospital will create an exemption process for medical conditions and religious beliefs – individuals will have the option to send in variations for review by October 15.
Also included in the hospital declaration:
“There is a wealth of data on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines available. We know that vaccination reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection by 95% and almost eliminates the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death.
The decision to have all employees vaccinated against COVID-19 is essential to our mission to provide safe care to everyone who walks through our doors. By vaccinating all of our employees, Denver Health is sending a strong message to the community that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and helpful for all residents of Denver. Several other higher education institutions, hospitals and employers are joining us and making the same announcements in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions about this policy and its impact on you, please speak to your supervisor or direct your questions to [email protected] Thank you for your continued support. “
Rocky Mountain VA Regional Medical Center
The VA hospital has said that its healthcare workers are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under Directive VHA 1193 – which states that all Title 38 healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated and will work with these. employees to ensure compliance.
VA ECHCS has approximately 1,200 Title 38 employees, all of whom continue to have the option of receiving their vaccine with the hospital or an external supplier – they have been offering COVID-19 vaccines to employees since December 2020.
A spokesperson for the hospital said the work determines their immunization status and identifies possible health or religious exemptions, while working to comply with the directive.
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The legality behind the vaccine requirement
In some U.S. cities, recent protests against a vaccination warrant have erupted outside some buildings for major healthcare providers, including in Boise, Idaho and Houston.
9NEWS legal expert Whitney Traylor said the short answer is that an employer has the right to demand a vaccine based on current case law.
“And I’m basing that on two things. The EEOC has published standards. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has published standards. And I’m really looking to, for example, the EEOC which says that the vaccine does not violate ADA, “Traylor said.
Traylor believes there will likely be tenure-related litigation not just in Colorado, but across the United States
However, he believes that most cases against a private or public employer mandating the vaccine would prove very difficult to move forward to court.
“But, of course, someone could dispute that and say it was an illegal dismissal. But remember, these employees are in Colorado, at least if they don’t have a contract, what most employees don’t have, they are to- employees. Now that doesn’t mean they can be fired for any reason. They can’t be fired because of their race, their religion or their gender, but at the same time it gives the employer, you know, and for the employer, the “catch 22” is that the employer has to provide a safe environment, “said Traylor.
He added that there is a difference in the strength of the arguments between public employees (i.e. a city employee) and those who work for private companies. However, overturning a court case against a vaccine warrant would still be hard to come by, he said.
“… these officials, the rules are a little different because they have some constitutional protections. The courts have actually said that our work is a protected right, you know, basically a protected right. That you have due process. , if you will, ”he said. “So with public employees, I think they can have a stronger argument that making it mandatory is unconstitutional or a violation of my rights. But even with public entities, I think they would still win. “
Overall, Traylor believes employers would try to mitigate the spread of the virus and encourage employees first, rather than resorting to dismissal immediately.
“… I will say that I don’t know a lot of employers who take a tough stand and say, ‘hey you don’t understand, you are fired’, I think employers try to really encourage them, like I Just mentioned it. And I think they’re trying to put in mitigation efforts, “he said.