WASHINGTON — Hospitals in D.C. and Maryland are calling on all workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Hospitals and health systems want all employees to be vaccinated against the virus. A release from the District of Columbia Hospital Association (DCHA) called it an important step to ensure the safety and well-being of hospital employees, patients and visitors in the District.
Jen Hirt with the DCHA said in the release that under the District-wide consensus, nearly all health systems and hospitals in D.C. will each set a date after which vaccination against COVID-19 will be a condition of employment or contract engagement. There will be exemptions for medical or religious reasons, Hirt said.
To date, roughly 70% of all D.C. hospital employees have been fully vaccinated, 52.3% of District residents have been partially vaccinated, and 42.3% of residents are fully vaccinated.
“The District of Columbia is blessed with a hospital workforce of over 30,000 individuals that provided and continue to provide compassionate and quality care throughout the pandemic,” said Jacqueline D. Bowens, President and CEO of the District of Columbia Hospital Association. “This consensus is a reiteration of our hospitals’ commitment to safety by keeping our staff, patients and visitors protected against COVID-19.”
The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) announced the same requirement for its current and new employees beginning September 1, 2021. UMMS operates 13 hospitals and a network of urgent care centers across Maryland, employing more than 29,000 people.
"We follow the science, and the scientific evidence tells us that from a safety and efficacy standpoint, COVID-19 vaccines represent a dramatic accomplishment and a clear pathway out of this pandemic,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO of UMMS in a press release. “As health care professionals, we accept that we hold ourselves to a higher standard and we embrace our mission to devote ourselves to the welfare of those in our care. COVID-19 vaccines are by far the best way to stop the spread of the virus, and given our ethical obligation to our patients, we must take every appropriate measure to keep our hospitals and other locations as safe as possible.”
Under the new policy, all UMMS team members and partners, including contractors, volunteers, and students who remain unvaccinated will be required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing. Managers will have until August 1 to be vaccinated. By September 1, all members will be required to receive vaccination or participate in weekly testing. There will also be limited exceptions.
Hospitals in Virginia have not yet made an announcement requiring vaccines for health care workers.