More Colorado health care groups requiring vaccines for employees as consortium pushes mandate
DENVER – More Colorado health care groups said Thursday they would require all their staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in coming weeks as a consortium of Colorado health care organizations pushed for all health care workers to be vaccinated.
Children’s Hospital Colorado will require all of its staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, and SCL Health and Boulder Community Health will require their staffs to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1.
For Children’s Hospital Colorado employees who do not get fully vaccinated by the beginning of October, they will be subject to wearing increased personal protective equipment and routine PCR testing. The policy applies to all employees, medical staff, trainees, volunteers, vendors, medical students and contractors.
“Our team members have embodied the spirit of a caring community, adapting and persevering through the past 17 months,” said Jena Hausmann, the president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Vaccines are essential in the fight against COVID-19. With safe and effective vaccines widely available, this decision affirms our commitment to the safety and care for our team members and for those we serve.”
The SCL Health requirement will apply to associates, providers, medical staff, contractors, vendors, temporary workers, students and volunteers. They can apply for a medical or religious exemption, the group said.
“We care about our patients and the associates who care for them,” said JP Valin, the executive vice president and chief clinical officer of SCL Health. “We ask anyone hesitant to receive the vaccine to consider the numbers. More than 300 million vaccines have been administered in the United States and nearly 4 billion doses administered worldwide, which shows the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19.”
For Boulder Community Health, the requirement will apply to medical staff, volunteers, trainees and students, as well as business partners, independent contractors and vendors. Medical and religious exemptions may also be applied for, but people who receive them will have to wear a mask at all times and be tested weekly for COVID-19. Employees who do not get vaccinated or receive an exemption “will face disciplinary action,” BCH said.
“The only way we’re going to defeat this virus is for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Susan Hagen, MD, the medical staff president of BCH.
The moves from those health care groups come on the heels of other health care groups — including UCHealth, Denver Health, National Jewish Health and Banner Health — requiring employees to be vaccinated.
And they come after 19 Colorado health care organizations, led by the Colorado Hospital Association, issued a statement Thursday morning calling for all health care employees in the state to get vaccinated, for health care organizations to adopt their own policies requiring staff and employees get vaccinated based on local factors, and for kids ages 2 and up to follow CDC guidelines for wearing masks indoors, especially pertaining to in-person learning.
“We are confident that the Colorado health care community will continue to lead by example in embracing and promoting the COVID-19 vaccines,” the group wrote. “The dramatic increase in variants of concern has added urgency to the already pressing need to achieve herd immunity for Coloradans. Vaccination is the primary way we will avoid overwhelming the health care system in our state and finally put the pandemic behind us.”
The city of Denver is also requiring all of its employees, and employees in certain other high-exposure settings, to get fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. Some venues, restaurants and other businesses are also requiring them for employees or visitors, as are some school districts and universities.
But Gov. Jared Polis reiterated Thursday that he was not yet ready to mandate masks in schools for children, despite the vaccine still not having been approved for kids under age 12.
As of Thursday, only 10 of Colorado’s 64 counties were in moderate- or low-transmission rates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.