IU Health requiring all staff to get COVID vaccine by fall

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A local hospital system is requiring its 36,000 employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by this fall.

In an email sent to employees on Tuesday, IU Health says it will require all employees to get vaccinated “as a condition of employment.”

The requirement for vaccination includes not only hospital staff that comes into contact with patients, but also office staff, contractors, and vendors. The hospital says requiring a vaccine is not new or unprecedented, but employees say they feel they are being pushed into a corner.

In the email, the company announced by Sept. 1 all employees will need to be fully vaccinated in order to remain employed. The reasoning listed in the email says, “all COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. are proven to be safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Vaccinating all IU Health team members is a simple, safe and effective way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect everyone in our facilities.”

Some employees, like one who reached out to News 8, are not comfortable getting the vaccine yet because of heath problems. We have protected her identity at her request.

“I feel like they want us to help the medical rights of all of our patients but our choice is taken away from us,” she said.

For her, more time is needed before being able to make a decision about the vaccine.

“I just want to see some long-term evidence before I feel like I am able to make a sound decision on that,” the employee said. “I am not saying I will never get it. I am just saying I don’t want to do it at this time. I don’t want my job to be jeopardized because of it.”

In a statement sent to News 8, a representative for IU Health said:

As one of the largest healthcare providers in the state, Indiana University Health is committed to providing a safe place to work and receive care, and will require all team members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1. Vaccinating team members is a safe and effective way to protect patients and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in facilities and in the community. All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. have been shown to be safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Requiring vaccinations for healthcare employees is not new or unprecedented. IU Health has required the flu vaccine since 2012, along with several other vaccines as a condition of employment. IU Health will allow team members to apply for a deferral or exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine based on medical or religious reasons. Applications will be reviewed and granted on an individual basis.

IU Health

“The flu shot has been around for a long time. There is proof and evidence of what it does long term. It is FDA approved and those things are not true with the COVID vaccine,” the employee said.

IU Health is allowing employees to apply for medical or religious exemptions. Those requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and if they are denied the hospital says they will be required to get the vaccine.