CoxHealth today announced a universal COVID-19 vaccination requirement for its employees.
The decision followed this morning’s announcement of full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the change, all CoxHealth employees must have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15, according to a news release. The policy applies to all physicians, vendors, students and employees on CoxHealth campuses. Spokesperson Kaitlyn McConnell said the health system has an application for employees seeking an exemption.
CoxHealth is the area's largest employer with 12,253 people on staff, according to Springfield Business Journal list research published in July.
The release from CoxHealth states that the move to universal vaccinations is the result of “vaccine safety, efficacy and full FDA approval.”
Physician leaders from CoxHealth made the decision, the release said, and it’s supported by CoxHealth’s COVID-19 Incident Command team, which includes medical directors, nurses and physician leaders, as well as the health system’s board of directors and administration.
“This decision is ultimately led by science, which has shown us that vaccinations are the way we can end this pandemic,” said Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth.
Edwards added, “Ultimately, this decision has been made in support of our most urgent priority of protecting our employees, patients and community. We have seen great tragedy over the past 18 months: hundreds of lives lost due to COVID-19, even more left with long-term impacts and untold moments of pain for our employees and community due to this dreadful virus.”
Nearly 70% of CoxHealth employees already are vaccinated against COVID-19, as are more than 90% of its physicians, according to the release.
On July 7, Mercy Springfield Communities, announced its vaccine requirement, with all employees required to be vaccinated by Sept. 30 or face termination. Officials said exemptions would be granted for religious or medical reasons.
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