VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Sentara, the area’s largest healthcare provider, is requiring all of their employees to get vaccinated against several viruses, as well as making recommendations for other vaccines.
According to Sentara, the required vaccines include ones that protect against measles, mumps, chicken pox, Hepatitis B, whooping cough and the flu.
Sentara’s Vice President of Clinical Effectiveness & Employee Health Services Mary Morin tells 10 On Your Side the initiative is in response to what they’re seeing on a national level.
“This is a safety initiative we’re seeing across this nation outbreaks of pertussis for example, we’ve seen measles.,” said Morin.
Just this week, health officials put out a warning in Sarasota, Florida where at least four children have confirmed cases of measles. Last month, there was a chickenpox outbreak in Asheville, North Carolina that affected dozens of kids.
Health officials say parents who are not vaccinating their children are to blame. They fear it will have a major impact on communities if the trend continues.
“If our employees are safe, our patients are safe and the communities are safe.” Morin said.
The company will honor two exemptions for the vaccines. One would be for medical reasons for example, if someone is receiving chemotherapy and cannot receive a vaccination. The other exemption is for religious beliefs.
“They have to fill out a form, just like they have to for medical exemption, and those religious exemptions will be taken into consideration.” Morin said.
The new policy will be phased in through 2019 with the following steps:
- New team members will be expected to adhere to the new requirements if their start date is on or after January 1, 2019
- Newly credentialed physicians and other providers will be introduced to the new requirements if their on-boarding is on or after February 1, 2019.
- Current clinical team members, physicians and providers credentialed to provide care at our facilities will be expected to close any gaps in their vaccination records as part of the current Occupational Health annual review process between now and December 2019.
- Non-clinical team members not previously required to complete an Occupational Health review will be phased in beginning in 2019.