Spectrum Health requires COVID-19 vaccine for staff, volunteers

Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, July 28, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS –Spectrum Health has announced that it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for team members, medical staff, students, volunteers and contractors.

“As a mission-driven organization, we are here to improve health, inspire hope and save lives,” said Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker. “We must do all we can to take care of each other and our community. Together, our actions will serve to save lives and shorten the impact of the pandemic – both clear benefits to the public good. We thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence and interviewed and debated with experts, both internal and external, to understand the facts. After robust conversations and time spent reviewing the science behind the vaccines, we reached our conclusion.”

Scientific evidence and clinical results point to the effectiveness of the vaccine:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk for hospitalization and death by moer than 95 percent.

Currently more than 99% of all deaths from COVID-19 infection are in unvaccinated persons.

  • Vaccination substantially reduces the risk of long-haul symptoms from COVID-19 as approximately 20 to 30 percent of people with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 will develop at least one long-haul symptom.
  • The delta variant has been reported as 225 percent more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus from 2019.
  • As of July 20, data from CDC indicates that up to 83 percent of all current COVID-19 cases are due to the delta variant, which is an increase from 50 percent at the beginning of July.
  • States with low vaccination rates are seeing more young people requiring ICU and ventilator support.

“We continue to see the benefits of the vaccine – both among our patients and teams. Almost all people who contract COVID-19 and need hospitalization or die from the virus are unvaccinated,” said Liam Sullivan, infectious disease specialist, Spectrum Health. “The delta variant of COVID-19 is causing significant increases in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in areas across the country where vaccination rates are low. We encourage people to be vaccinated, in consultation with their physician’s advice.”

More than 163 million Americans are fully vaccinated.

“We agree with the science behind the vaccines, the facts related to the effectiveness of the vaccines and the thorough process the FDA takes in approving vaccines,” Decker said. “We are applying the same logic to the COVID-19 vaccine as we did in requiring the flu and other vaccines. As a health organization that cares about our team members’ health and our communities’ health, we support the science and will act accordingly.”

Spectrum Health will require the COVID-19 vaccine within eight weeks of the FDA approving the first vaccine and will consider exemptions as required by law. Spectrum Health may decide to act more quickly if it sees a risk to team member and public health as a result of the delta variant, or subsequent variants, based on data in local communities, officials said.