NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- One of the biggest hospital groups in the nation is now requiring staffers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
NewYork-Presbyterian announced the new mandate Friday in a company-wide message, in which workers were told they must receive at least one shot by September 1.
"During the past year, we all witnessed the most severe global health crisis in a century," the letter read. "You worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to bring our patients and communities through it. Now, thanks to the advent of effective COVID-19 vaccines, we can look forward with hope and relief for the first time in over a year. There is, however, one more important action we all must take: get vaccinated."
Workers will be allowed to present a valid exemption note, namely for medical, pregnancy, or religious reasons.
Any exemptions must be applied for by August 1.
"We care for sick people - some critically so - every day, and we are responsible for their safety while in our care," the letter read. "The stakes in this matter are high, and the evidence is clear that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most important and responsible action we can take as NYP team members for the safety and well-being of our patients and visitors, our communities, and ourselves."
The mandate is in addition to existing vaccination requirements against influenza, measles, rubella, and varicella.
"As a leading health care organization, we believe it is essential to require vaccinations to protect our patients and ourselves against the threat of further harm from the pandemic and the possibility of more dangerous mutations," the letter read.
Since vaccinations against COVID-19 were introduced, more than 2.25 billion doses have been administered worldwide, including 300 million in the U.S., and more than 50% of the eligible U.S population is fully vaccinated.
The Greater New York Hospitals Association, a large trade group that represents health systems, issued a statement in support of the decision.
"I support NewYork-Presbyterian's decision to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for staff," President Kenneth Raske said. "Every hospital and health care system is trying to achieve a 100% COVID-19 vaccination rate of their workers. The only question is how. Thanks to tireless efforts and enormous cooperation from our brave, outstanding workforce, we have achieved impressive vaccination results, but it remains less than 100%. Every institution is discussing how to achieve that goal, and some may choose to emulate the mandatory approach. Hospitals are committed to delivering the best health care for our patients. A fully vaccinated workforce helps in this mission."
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