EMH is requiring all associates to have COVID vaccination; urges the public to get theirs too

Ephraim McDowell Health is seeing an increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Our hard-working health care workers have fought hard against this virus for more than a year. But this latest surge has led to a truly critical moment for our community.

Things looked hopeful just a month ago after a large number of people received the COVID-19 vaccination. But this Delta variant began raging and is now targeting mainly those individuals who have not been vaccinated.

I understand and respect that COVID-19 vaccination is a deeply personal and serious decision. However, it’s my job to make sure our hospitals and outpatient clinics are available to meet the healthcare needs of those in the communities we serve. Ephraim Health must ensure the health and safety of not only those providing medical care but also those seeking it.

Ephraim McDowell Health is now requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for all employees, employed medical staff, students and volunteers (although most of our volunteers have been sidelined since March 2020). Already, nearly 70% of our Associates are fully vaccinated. For those who aren’t, we are asking them to get their first dose of the vaccine by September 1, 2021.

Ephraim McDowell Health is not the only health system requiring employees to be vaccinated. More than 50 other hospitals in Kentucky also require their healthcare workforce to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This action is supported by the Kentucky Hospital Association as well as the Kentucky Medical Association and the Kentucky Nurses Association. In a joint statement from those groups, it was noted that unvaccinated persons accounted for 97% of positive tests, 93% of hospitalizations and 92% of deaths between April and June of this year.

The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization for three COVID-19 vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. All three vaccines have been found – by scientific evidence and real-world experience – to be safe and effective. Indeed, vaccination against COVID-19 is the best thing we can do to prevent the spread of this virus while also ensuring the health of our workforce and all Kentuckians.

I recognize that some people are opposed to getting vaccinated, for one reason or another. Already, we require our employees to receive an annual flu shot, and those who do not must wear a mask during flu season. For those employees who have medical or religious reasons not to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, we are requiring that they undergo regular COVID-19 testing and meet additional mask requirements.

Part of our mission is to help people live healthier. One way to do that is to ensure that our staff is protected from contagious diseases while also minimizing transmission to co-workers and the community. Now is the time for us to step up and do what we can to create the safest environment possible for those we serve.

If you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine and want to get it, we provide vaccinations each Thursday at the Boyle County Extension Office, located at 99 Corporate Drive in Danville. Clinic times vary, but please check our website (www.emhealth.org) for complete details.

Let’s join together and put an end to COVID-19!