Over the last 18 months, we have seen and overcome tremendous challenges to care for people across our region. And now, with access to a very effective vaccine, we have made the decision that influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations are considered a workplace requirement for all employees and providers at Grand Itasca.
As a health care organization deeply rooted in our community, it’s our responsibility to protect the wellbeing of our teams, provide a safe and healthy environment for those we serve, and to set an example for our neighbors. Research overwhelmingly shows that getting a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine dramatically reduces your chances of spreading disease, experiencing severe illness and, potentially, death.
This position is shared by both the American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association, who joined forces with more than 50 health organizations this week to recommend that all health care workers be vaccinated. They reference the increasing spread of COVID-19 variants and vaccine skepticism as important reasons for medical providers to “uphold their professional and ethical obligations to model the same prevention measures as their patients.”
We take our obligation to care for our patients seriously and need to do everything we can to prevent the spread of disease within our system and our community. To that end, Fairview, including Grand Itasca, will require all providers, employees, students, volunteers, vendors, and contractors to receive both an annual flu and a COVID-19 vaccination.
Already, 80 percent of our employees have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who have not will be given until Oct. 31 to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines will be offered free of charge and reasonable accommodations will be made for employees to receive it during work hours. Exceptions will be made for individuals with specific medical or religious exemptions. We will continue to involve diverse voices in our planning and execution process to ensure we are hearing employee feedback and incorporating it in our outreach efforts.
Over the past year-and-a-half, our employees have worked tirelessly to care for patients who were suffering from COVID-19. We’re proud of these efforts. This new requirement will ensure we are serving our patients to our best ability and demonstrating the leadership our community expects from a leading health care organization.