Community Health Network is the latest hospital system to announce that it will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Thursday, the health system said that all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 15.
The requirement applies to vendors, contractors and volunteers who work at Community locations, hospital officials said.
“The evidence is clearer every day that those who are vaccinated very rarely pass the virus to others,” said Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive for Community Health Network, in an emailed news release. “We have an obligation to the patients who put their health in our hands to create the safest environment possible.”
Patients and visitors still will be expected to wear masks.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that those who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public places, that latitude does not apply to when they are inside hospitals, public transportation, airports and a handful of other sites.
A growing number of hospitals around the country are announcing that they expect all employees to be vaccinated by the fall. Last week IU Health, the state’s largest health care employer, announced that it would require that all of its employees to be vaccinated.
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Both hospital systems said that employees can apply for exemptions for religious or medical reasons. A similar system exists for the flu vaccine, which many hospitals also require of employees.
A group of IU Health employees plans to hold a protest this weekend against the decision.
About 60% of Community’s 16,000 employees have already been vaccinated. Since December when health-care workers became eligible for the vaccine the hospital system has engaged in an education awareness campaign.
Health-care employers are not the only ones in Indiana to require the vaccine of employees. Several universities, including the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, have also announced mandatory vaccine policies for the fall.
After lawmakers pushed back against IU’s requirement due to its status as a state school, officials there softened the procedure, saying that vaccines will still be required but students, but faculty and staff will no longer have to produce documentation proving they have been vaccinated. Instead, they will have to fill out an online firm that attests to their vaccine status.
Lawmakers have not gotten so directly involved in the private or health care sectors.