GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spectrum Health will require the COVID-19 vaccine for team members, medical staff, students, volunteers and contractors, according to an announcement Wednesday.
“As a mission-driven organization, we are here to improve health, inspire hope and save lives,” Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese Decker said. “We must do all we can to take care of each other and our community. Together our actions will serve to save lives and shorten the impact of the pandemic – both clear benefits to the public good. We thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence and interviewed and debated with experts, both internal and external, to understand the facts. After robust conversations and time spent reviewing the science behind the vaccines, we reached our conclusion.”
Liam Sullivan, an infectious disease specialist at Spectrum Health, said almost all patients who need hospitalization or die from COVID-19 at this point are unvaccinated.
“The delta variant of COVID-19 is causing significant increases in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in areas across the country where vaccination rates are low,” Sullivan said. “We encourage people to be vaccinated, in consultation with their physician’s advice.”
Spectrum Health officials say they’re “applying the same logic” to the COVID-19 vaccine as they did in requiring flu shots and other vaccines.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be required by Spectrum Health within eight weeks of the FDA approving the first vaccine and will consider exemptions as required by law.
The health system may decide to act more quickly if it sees a risk to team member and public health because of the delta variant – or subsequent variants – based on data in local communities.