WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One of Iowa’s largest health care provides has announced it will require its more than 33,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, making it among the latest health systems across the country to require the vaccine.
The West Des Moines-based system, which has a network of hospitals, clinics and home care services in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, announced the vaccine requirement on Thursday.
“After thoughtful consideration, we believe this vaccination requirement will help keep our team members, patients and communities as healthy as possible,” UnityPoint CEO and President Clay Holderman said in a written statement.
The requirement applies to all employees, regardless of whether they provide direct patient care. UnityPoint employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1. Those who refuse must resign or be fired.
Employees can request an exemption for medical or religious reasons, and pregnant employees — while strongly encouraged to get vaccinated — can request a temporary deferral.
“The COVID vaccine is safe and effective in terms of preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death,” Dr. Dave Williams, UnityPoint’s chief clinical officer, said. “The continued wave of infections throughout the country make it clear we are not done fighting this pandemic, which means more people need to get vaccinated, especially before an anticipated increase of respiratory illnesses this fall.”
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