Today, 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and facing another surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Geisinger is announcing all employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15. Rooted in values for safety and high-quality care, the decision requiring employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine follows months of careful study and discussion.
“Based on overwhelming evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, we believe this is the right decision at the right time to protect our patients and employees and slow the spread of this deadly virus in our communities,” said Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D., Geisinger’s president and chief executive officer. “We understand that some employees who have consciously chosen to not get vaccinated may be disappointed by this decision. We hope they will understand that this is a necessary step to protect the health of our patients and their colleagues.”
In addition to current employees, the COVID-19 vaccine requirement includes all new employees, faculty, medical staff, residents, fellows, temporary workers, trainees, volunteers, students and temporary staff, regardless of employer. Employees must complete a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine series by October 15. All new employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment beginning on October 15.
“With new variants taking hold, causing rising COVID-19 numbers locally, nationally and in our hospitals, our communities can’t afford for health care workers to be out of work because of COVID-19,” Ryu said. “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees have worked tirelessly, under challenging and unprecedented circumstances to continue delivering world-class care to our friends and neighbors, and this now includes requiring our employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
An exemption process is available for employees who have a documented and very specific medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that preclude them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Geisinger has similar vaccination requirements for employees to be protected from viruses like influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and more.
Today’s announcement aligns with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Group Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and many more that have strongly recommended COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health care workers. Geisinger stands with these respected organizations in putting the safety of its patients and staff first.
Currently, about 70 percent of Geisinger employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These employees and all those who meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement by October 15 are showing a commitment to our values and keeping our patients, communities and co-workers safe. As a thank you for living Geisinger’s values, all non-executive leadership employees who meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement or receive an approved exemption will be paid a one-time $500 bonus in late October.
In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, Geisinger continues to follow other safety measures to prevent the virus’ spread, including requiring masks in all buildings, limiting visitation, and reducing capacity in public spaces to encourage physical distancing. For the latest COVID information, including Geisinger’s policies, visit geisinger.org/coronavirus.