VANCOUVER, Wash. – PeaceHealth announced that starting August 31, 2021, all caregivers will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit a qualifying medical exemption. Unvaccinated individuals will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing, as well as additional masking, potential reassignment to non-patient care settings, and other safety protocols. The policy will apply to all caregivers, including providers, students, contractors, vendors, and volunteers.
“Though nearly 80% of PeaceHealth caregivers have already been vaccinated, the rise in hospitalizations in our communities is a stark reminder that we are facing a public health emergency and we must do more,” said Dr. Doug Koekkoek, PeaceHealth’s Chief Physician Executive. “We believe all healthcare workers who are medically able should get a COVID-19 vaccine to keep themselves, our patients, and our communities safe. Doing so is part of our Mission to promote personal and community health and our Vision to make sure that every person receives safe, compassionate care.”
While the organization has had high rates of voluntary caregiver vaccination, after thoughtful deliberation and a formal ethical discernment, PeaceHealth joins many health systems across the country, and professional organizations including the Catholic Health Association, the the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and others in supporting vaccine requirements to ensure public health.
Bob K. Pelz, MD, PeaceHealth’s system medical director of Infection Prevention, noted that “New variants of COVID-19 pose a critical threat to those unable to be vaccinated, including children and the medically vulnerable. It is our moral obligation to first do no harm and act for the common good. COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be the best way to protect ourselves and reduce the likelihood of harming others.”
This new policy is a reflection of the organization’s shared commitment to ensure every patient receives safe care at PeaceHealth and is part of a multi-measured approach to protect caregivers and patients, along with the supply of personal protective equipment, routine testing, masking, social distancing, diligent hygiene, contact tracing and proper quarantining.