Health care organizations in Hampton Roads to require COVID-19 vaccines for all employees

COVID-19 Vaccine

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Several health care organizations in Hampton Roads have expanded their vaccination policies and are now requiring all team members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a statement from Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Health System, Riverside Health System and Sentara Healthcare on Wednesday afternoon, all announced that they will now require all team members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18, 2021. Bon Secours also announced it’s employees will need to be vaccinated.

“COVID is changing and it’s changing every day,” said Dr. Jordan Asher, Sentara’s chief physician executive.

Now that the FDA has approved at least one of the vaccines (Pfizer), employees will have 8 weeks from now to be fully vaccinated.

The announcement comes after the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association supported COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all hospital and health system employees on July 18.

In the statement, healthcare officials say that as the community’s front-line defense against COVID-19, healthcare providers have “a moral and ethical responsibility” to protect the health of their team members, patients, residents, and communities.

Healthcare systems in Hampton Roads are once again stretched thin as the delta variant lands dozens of patients in the hospital.

“It has started to stress our capacity. The numbers, case counts and hospitalizations are really rising exponentially in this area,” stated Dr. Mike Dacey, president and chief operating officer of Riverside Health.

Dacey told 10 On Your Side a month ago there were five patients with COVID-19 in the hospital at any given time. Now, there are 90 and that number keeps climbing.

“We thought it would be in the best interest of the community in order to not create confusion, in order to speak with a shared voice for the health of all our communities,” Asher explained.

Chesapeake Regional, CHKD, Riverside and Sentara all share one mission: to get their staff fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

“We will vaccinate anyone and everyone we can,” Asher said.

For those who are unable to be vaccinated, Asher explained that exceptions will be made for religious or medical reasons. For those who simply refuse, their employment will be terminated.

“This is the most well-studied vaccine in history. There are hundreds of millions of people in North America who have received the vaccine and billions of people across the planet who’ve received the vaccine. Extraordinarily safe and extraordinarily effective,” Dacey said.

Bon Secours will also now require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but wasn’t included in the statement released Wednesday from other area health systems.

Bon Secours officials say they plan to implement the requirement for all associates and providers physically based in Hampton Roads to be vaccinated.

Currently, several health systems and organizations such as the Catholic Health Associationthe Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the American Hospital AssociationAmerican Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association all support health care workers receiving vaccinations.

“This decision is based on our firm belief, grounded in scientific evidence, that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any potential risks,” the statement says.

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Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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