According to officials, the requirement for all of the health system’s staff members, students, volunteers and contractors to receive their COVID vaccination will take effect Sept. 10, 2021. The health system is the first in Michigan, but not the first in the U.S., to require its employees to get their shots.
“We acknowledge the magnitude of this decision and we did not make it lightly,” said HFHS president and CEO Wright Lassiter. “As a leader and trusted voice in our communities, our patients and members depend on us to create a safe, healthy environment. We owe that same promise to our team members. Safety and infection prevention are everyone’s responsibility.”
So far, about 68% of HFHS employees have reportedly been vaccinated for COVID. Officials say that staff members are already required to receive a flu shot each year, and must remain current on other immunizations for diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough.
The announcement comes as Michigan experiences its most significant decline in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began more than 15 months ago.
“The data and science continues to reinforce the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines,” said Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer. “With the expectation that the FDA will grant permanent approval to Pfizer and other vaccinations soon, we believe this decision is in the best interest of our patients and members, our team members, and the communities we serve.”
The positive test rate for COVID infections is at 1.18% percent as of Tuesday morning -- nearly the lowest it has ever been.
On Monday, the state reported a total of 311 new cases and five new virus deaths over a three-day period, which averages out to about 104 new cases and 2 new deaths each day. The state has not seen numbers this low since about this time last year -- and those low counts did not last more than a few weeks.
Michigan’s COVID numbers began to decline at the end of April this year, following a surge that exceeded metrics only seen amid the onset of the pandemic. Just one month ago at the end of may, the state was still reporting upward of 700 daily new cases.
However, some virus variants, such as the delta variant, are spreading quickly across several countries around the world, causing some concern (and spikes in cases in some places). It is believed that current mRNA COVID vaccines are effective against this variant and others, so long as they do not make a significant transformation.