Baptist Health to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees by Oct 31

August 05, 2021

Baptist Health will now require all of its employees to be vaccinated for the protection of staff, their families, patients and the community.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021 – As COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated are on the increase, Baptist Health will now require all of its employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 31 for the protection of staff, their families, patients and the community.

The decision, made in partnership with other healthcare systems and with the backing of Baptist Health’s medical leadership, was announced by Baptist Health Aug. 2 to staff at all nine hospitals and the Baptist Health Medical Group.

Baptist Health joins other hospitals and health systems in Kentucky and Indiana, and more than 80 across the nation, that now require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. Staff members and providers who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons (as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or religious reasons may apply for an exemption by Aug. 30. Those with an approved exemption will be subject to periodic testing for COVID-19.

“Baptist Health staff members and providers were among the first to receive these life-saving vaccines as role models for others in our communities,” said Gerard Colman, Baptist Health CEO. “We know the vaccines are one of the best ways to combat this virus.

“We must continue to lead by example by requiring that all Baptist Health employees are fully vaccinated. It is the ethical and responsible thing to do to live our mission of improving the healthcare of the communities that we serve.”

The delta variant has sparked an increase in COVID cases, primarily among the unvaccinated. Baptist Health hospitals have seen the number of confirmed COVID inpatient cases rise steadily in the last month – with more than 80% of those patients unvaccinated across all nine hospitals -- in some cases reaching near-peak levels from the pandemic’s height.

Requiring vaccinations will also help with staffing, as OSHA now requires that unvaccinated healthcare workers must stay home from work if exposed to COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

“The only way to beat COVID-19 is through vaccinations,” said Nilesh Desai, Baptist Health chief Pharmacy officer. “We know the vaccines are safe and effective. We’ve seen the vaccines have helped in preventing infection and severe illness. For the health of our remaining staff members and providers – and for the health of others -- we recommend they schedule and get their first shot of vaccine by mid-September.” 

Because the two-shot vaccines must be spaced 21 to 28 days apart depending on the vaccine – and it takes an additional 14 days after the second dose to be fully effective – employees must get their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine by Sept. 15. Employees may also opt to take the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The vaccination requirement also extends to all contractors, independent licensed healthcare providers, students, vendors and any other person performing onsite services at any Baptist Health facility. Employees with a start date of Sept. 13 or later will be required to have their first dose of the vaccine within one week of hire.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available and those age 12 and older are eligible to receive them.