URBANA — Seven months after health care workers were the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine, several health systems in the area haven’t made vaccination mandatory for their employees.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations begin to surge again, the American Medical Association and dozens of other health care organizations urged all health-care and long-term-care employers to require vaccinations for their employees — for employees’ own protection and the protection of others.
Among those in the area that aren’t requiring vaccination for their employees are Christie Clinic, Carle Health, Promise Healthcare and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
OSF HealthCare announced last week that it would begin requiring its employees to be vaccinated by the end of September.
Patty Peterson, spokeswoman for Sarah Bush Lincoln, said a vaccine requirement for employees is discussed about weekly, but no decisions have been made yet.
Carle spokesman Kaleb Miller said Carle has continued to strongly support vaccination for all its employees and has made “great progress” in vaccination for the majority.
“We continue our work to put in place necessary supports for requiring vaccine, and we are actively working toward this goal,” he said.
A Christie Clinic official said Christie is also encouraging all its employees to be vaccinated.
“We continue to watch and follow the requirements put out by the CDC, IDPH and local public health for health care and are in full compliance with those mandates,” said Michelle Antonacci, Christie Clinic’s clinical services director. “There are other vaccines that are required of team members and have been determined mandatory due to CDC, IDPH and local public health mandates for health care workers.”
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is working on the final draft of a policy on required vaccination for its own employees, according to Administrator Julie Pryde.
She supports mandatory vaccination for health care and long-term-care employees, “not only for COVID, but for influenza as well,” she said.
“If you want to work in an industry where you are caring for people who are vulnerable, I just think that is important,” Pryde said.
As COVID-19 cases have been rising again in the area, so have COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Carle Health reported Monday it had 39 hospitalized COVID-19 patients throughout its system, 27 of whom were at Carle Foundation Hospital, with four at that hospital in intensive care.
Just a week ago, Carle Foundation Hospital had 11 COVID-19 patients.
New COVID-19 cases in Champaign County have continued to rise, with 81 new cases reported between Friday and Monday.
The number of currently active cases in the county shot up over the weekend to 260, 47 more than there were Friday.
Many health care and long-term-care employees remain unvaccinated, according to a joint statement issued Monday by the AMA, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Nursing, American Pharmacists Association, American College of Surgeons and dozens of other health care organizations.
“As we move toward full FDA approval of the currently available vaccines, all health care workers should get vaccinated for their own health and to protect their colleagues, families, residents of long-term-care facilities and patients,” they said. “This is especially necessary to protect those who are vulnerable, including unvaccinated children and the immunocompromised.
“Indeed, this is why many health care and long-term-care organizations already require vaccinations for influenza, hepatitis B and pertussis.”