Treasure Valley health care systems requiring employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

Inisde the Saint Alphonsus vaccine clinic
Posted at 12:23 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 09:33:45-04

Trinity Health, the health system Saint Alphonsus is a member of, is requiring all colleagues, clinical staff, contractors and those doing business in its health care facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Saint Alphonsus said in a news release it will require vaccinations for all colleagues in Idaho and encourages vaccines for colleagues in Oregon. Oregon law does not allow healthcare employers from requiring vaccinations.

75% of Trinity Health employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine to date, according to the release.

“Safety is one of our core values and because of our commitment to providing safe care, ensuring our colleagues and providers are vaccinated is what is required at this time. We must trust the science and live up to our core values,” said Odette Bolano, President and CEO of Saint Alphonsus Health System.

There will be a series of rolling deadlines, with all employees required to submit proof of vaccination by September 21, 2021. It hasn't been determined if a vaccine booster shot will be required annually, but if so, Saint Alphonsus says employees will also need to submit proof of the booster.

Exemptions are available for religious or health reasons and must be requested, documented and approved, according to the release. Saint Alphonsus says employees who do not meet the criteria for exemption and fail to show proof of vaccination will have their employment terminated.

Primary Health, Idaho's largest independent medical group, will also require all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-September.

The Associated Press reports Primary Health has 21 family medicine and urgent care clinics in southwestern Idaho. Primary Health Group CEO Dr. Daivd Peterman says about 130 of more than 600 employees haven't yet been vaccinated.

The company has required its staffers to be immunized against other contagious diseases for a decade, including an annual flu vaccine, according to the Associated Press.

St. Luke's Health System announced Thursday the COVID-19 vaccine will be added to its list of required vaccinations for employees. St. Luke's President and CEO of St. Luke's said the requirement comes from Idaho's low vaccination rate and the "rapid spread" of the Delta variant and loosening restrictions.

“Safety is a top priority for St. Luke’s, as is our obligation to protect our staff, patients, and communities from vaccine-preventable disease,” said Chris Roth in the letter to staff. “We’ve made meaningful progress with more than 77 percent of our staff members and providers across the health system fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But we’re still not where we need to be – as an organization or as a state.”

The health care system announced someone who is not able to get vaccinated due to medical conditions or "strongly held religious belief." St. Luke's has a process for requesting exemptions.