Sanford Health to require employee COVID-19 vaccination

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – Sanford Health is requiring its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by November 1st.

Sanford Health Fargo Vice President Dr. Doug Griffin says although the decision has been under consideration for some time, the resurgence of COVID-19 variants is one of the reasons for the mandate.

“That’s probably maybe moved the timeline up a little bit. I think we would’ve done it regardless, but increased activity around the country certainly has, I think, played a role in us doing this now,” Griffin said Thursday.

Of its roughly 50,000 employees, more than 90% of Sanford Health clinicians and 70% of nurses are already vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, those numbers aren’t where the organization would like to be.

“We really think we’re at a point in the pandemic that this is really the right thing to do,” Griffin adds. He says it’s about protecting the safety and health of employees and patients.

Sanford employees are already required to have several other vaccines, including the annual flu shot.

Roughly 3% of Sanford Fargo employees are exempt from the flu vaccine due to medical or religious reasons.

Those same exceptions will be made for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As for employees who refuse to get vaccinated for other reasons, “That decision will come definitely, you know, could it be a furlough? Could it be unemployed? That final decision hasn’t been made yet, but we would anticipate they would not be working without being vaccinated,” Griffin explained.

He says some of the reasons certain employees haven’t gotten vaccinated include the same reasons sometimes heard from the general public. “Some people have been cautious and waiting for more information or safety in the vaccine. We have some people that may just be opposed to vaccines.”

Griffin adds he wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some pushback from employees. He went on to say, “But the fact is, we feel very strongly. This is a decision made after lots of consideration, a lot of review of the science and feedback from our patients and staff. We really think it’s the right thing to do.”

In a statement, Essentia Health officials say they have not made a decision about requiring the COVID vaccine for employees.

The statement goes on to say the provider is evaluating its options with current and newly hired employees to mandate the vaccine, just as it does each year with the flu shot.

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