augusta free press news

COVID-19 vaccinations required for Augusta Health staff

Augusta HealthAugusta Health is requiring its team members to have their COVID-19 vaccinations effective Nov. 1.

The requirement applies to all team members, providers/credentialed medical staff, volunteers, students, contract staff, consultants and vendors, according to a press release issued on Friday.

The hospital spelled out the reasoning behind the requirement in a statement in the release:

“Requiring the COVID-19 vaccination is the right thing to do and now is the right time to make this decision.

“We recognize the magnitude of this decision and do not make it lightly. We have always advocated for vaccination as the best path forward to make a lasting impact on the pandemic. The data and science have consistently reinforced the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. With permanent FDA approval on the horizon, and faced with the increased prevalence of the more contagious Delta variant in the community, we believe it is time to move from encouraging the vaccine to requiring it. We need everyone ‘all-in’ in this fight against COVID, and we believe there is no greater compassion we can show or dedication to our mission we can display than to do all we can to prevent the spread of this devastating disease.

“We believe every team member has an ethical duty to keep our patients and each other safe, and that includes vaccination. We will also continue to wear masks and take any other action needed to prevent spreading COVID-19 and its variants.”

The release reported that about 80 percent of Augusta Health’s staff has already been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The decision to require a COVID-19 vaccination is consistent with existing vaccination policy at Augusta Health,” the release said. “Team members are required to get an annual flu shot and stay current with other vaccinations such as measles, mumps and whooping cough.”

Information sessions will be held for those with concerns so they can feel confident about getting the vaccine, and religious and medical exemptions will be reviewed by the appropriate panel.

“We do not want to lose a single team member because of this policy, but we know in our hearts and in our minds that we must do all we can to keep our team and our community safe, healthy and protected from this virus. It’s a complicated decision, but the most effective way to attain that level of safety and protection is through vaccination,” the release said.