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UK HealthCare joins list of health care providers requiring vaccine for employees

UK HealthCare has joined the growing list of healthe care providers requiring employees to get...
UK HealthCare has joined the growing list of healthe care providers requiring employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination.(WKYT)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 1:33 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - UK HealthCare has joined the growing list of health care providers requiring employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

It was announced Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccination will be required for health care providers, staff, trainees, learners and those who work in UK HealthCare facilities.

Employees will be required to initiate a complete COVID-19 vaccination series by September 15. The requirement includes a declination process for religious or medical reasons as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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“This reinforces the importance of vaccination and, we hope, encourages more vaccination throughout the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Mark F. Newman, University of Kentucky executive vice president for health affairs. “Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures.”

UK HealthCare joins other hospitals in the state as well as nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, which have called for mandatory vaccination of health care workers as the highly contagious Delta variant drives a new surge of coronavirus cases.

We’re told there are more than 13,000 UK Healthcare employees, but roughly 12,000 have been vaccinated. Which means this requirement is targeting around 1,000 unvaccinated employees, including doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

COVID-19 cases in Kentucky are up more than 200% over the last 14 days causing hospitalizations in Kentucky to more than double with the great majority of those hospitalized being unvaccinated.

“Just as we have believed for years in vaccinations to slow the spread of influenza and its consequences for those who are medically compromised, we believe in COVID-19 vaccination as one crucial tangible step we can all take to provide a safe environment of care,” Newman said.

Doctors believe roughly 70% of COVID cases in this region are due to the delta variant. We asked Dr. Newman why nearly 1,000 health professionals at UK haven’t gotten the vaccine. These are the people who are more familiar with the science from clinical trials than rest of the public. Here’s what he had to say:

“You may have people who have religious concerns. You may have people who have medical concerns that may increase their concerns about taking a vaccine,” Dr. Newman said. “I think there’s been some concern, even though we talked about it today in our town hall, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended pregnant women and those who want to get pregnant to go ahead with the vaccine.”

Dr. Newman says there will be protocols in place for those who choose not to get vaccinated, such as being required to always wear a mask, routine COVID tests, perhaps even relocation. But he said UK Healthcare is not thinking of terminating any employees who choose not to get vaccinated.

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