The health system announced Wednesday that all employees will be required to get vaccinated for the virus, or face suspension or dismissal if they refuse. The mandate will go into effect once the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) fully approves a current COVID vaccine.
Existing COVID vaccines have been authorized for emergency use, but have not yet been FDA approved. Full FDA approval of at least one circulating COVID vaccine is expected this fall.
Officials say all Beaumont employees and providers at all facilities will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within six weeks of a full FDA approval.
The health system also says the vaccine mandate may go into effect before FDA approval is granted, particularly if virus infections spike again across Michigan or if Beaumont Health experiences its fourth virus surge. COVID cases, fueled by the delta variant, have been on the rise in Michigan and across the nation.
The health system says the decision was made as the COVID delta variant continues to spread rapidly, primarily among unvaccinated people.
“We have a duty to protect our patients and our staff,” said Beaumont Health CEO John Fox. “The delta variant is the most contagious form of COVID-19. It spreads much faster than the original version of the virus. We want all Beaumont team members to stay healthy. The vaccine is the only safe and effective way to truly protect against COVID-19.”
The vaccine mandate will also be extended to volunteers at Beaumont facilities.
Officials say team members who refuse to receive a COVID vaccine, and who do not meet specific exemptions, will initially be suspended, and ultimately dismissed. More specific policy details are expected to be announce in the coming weeks.
Beaumont, one of Michigan’s largest health care systems, is not the only health system in the state to mandate coronavirus vaccinations. Spectrum Health and the Henry Ford Health System are also requiring staff members to get their shot.
Recently released legal guidance from the federal government suggests that the law is on the side of employers, and that they do have a legal right to require employees to get vaccinated.
President Biden is expected to announce Thursday that most federal employees will be required to get vaccinated for the virus, or else they’ll be subject to regular COVID testing and social distancing, masking and travel restrictions.