Saint Luke’s Health System announced it will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 30, 2021.
The announcement comes as Kansas City has experienced a dramatic surge in cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. Hospitals and health systems across Missouri and Kansas have struggled to find enough ICU beds and staff to care for patients. Pediatric cases and hospitalizations have also risen sharply, causing increased concern among health officials that there will be another uptick in cases as kids head back to school.
“Saint Luke’s mission and commitment to Kansas City has been clear for 139 years,” said Melinda L. Estes, MD, Saint Luke’s Health System President and CEO. “Our job is to protect and care for the health of our patients. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and is causing devastating loss. As healthcare professionals, the most important action each of us can take to end this pandemic is to get vaccinated. As a respected and trusted healthcare leader, it is incumbent upon us as an organization to ensure we are doing everything in our power to protect the health of our community, our patients, and our staff. This policy aligns our commitment, mission, and values with tangible action.”
The vaccine requirement will apply to all SLHS employees, licensed independent medical staff members, allied health professionals, contracted personnel, student affiliates, and volunteers. Employees may request a medical or religious exemption. These requests will be individually reviewed on a case-by-case basis by either Saint Luke’s clinicians or Saint Luke’s Spiritual Wellness chaplains. Any employee granted an exemption will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and monitoring. All new employees will be required to be fully vaccinated within 45 days of employment.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all healthcare personnel by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control. Numerous national healthcare advocacy organizations have also expressed their staunch support for mandatory vaccination for healthcare professionals, including the following:
- The American Hospital Association
- The American Medical Association
- The National Medical Association
- The American Nurses Association
- The American Academy of Pediatrics
- The American Pharmacist Association
- The American College of Surgeons
- The National Council of State Boards of Nursing
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received full FDA approval for use in people ages 16 and older on August 23, 2021, following months of rigorous testing and safety reviews.
“The data has demonstrated overwhelmingly that the vaccines are safe, effective, and our best opportunity to end the spread of this virus,” said Estes. “There is no question this decision will save lives and is the right thing to do.”