The state's largest private employer will be requiring its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
ChristianaCare said all staff--regardless of their type of work--will be required to roll up their sleeves along with medical-dental staff, residents, students, contracted employees, temporary labor, and volunteers and vendors.
The requirement comes as the highly transmissible Delta variant brings renewed concerns across the country. It also comes as President Biden prepares to require federal employees to get vaccinated or be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.
ChristianaCare's decision also comes just days after the CDC revised its mask recommendations to include indoor masking in areas where coronavirus transmission is considered high or substantial. Right now, in Delaware, that only includes Sussex County.
ChristianaCare employs 14,500 caregivers. Since vaccines became available, ChristianaCare CEO Janice Nevin said 10,000 employees have opted to get vaccinated through the health system; however, some employees may have sought vaccination outside the workplace.
"While we have not required vaccinations to-date, the highly transmissible delta variant and the surge in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people across the country—including in our area—have prompted additional considerations. The science is clear: Health care workers must be vaccinated in order to protect the health and safety of our patients, our caregivers and our community. We must take this step as expert, caring partners in the health of our neighbors," Nevin said in a prepared statement.
A number of professional organizations are also urging all health care facilities to require workers to get vaccinated, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, the American College of Surgeons and many others.
“We believe we have reached a tipping point at which the urgent need for all caregivers to be vaccinated is clear,” said Chief People Officer Neil Jasani, M.D., MBA, FACEP. “While we continue to provide exceptional care for people with COVID-19, the fact remains that this is a very dangerous virus, especially the delta variant, which is causing increasing hospitalizations and mortality among younger and healthier people. The best way to protect people and to save lives is through vaccination," Jasani said in a written statement.
Employees have until September 21, 2021, to get their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Vaccine exemptions will only be allowed for specific medical conditions and religious beliefs, the health system said.