Vaccination Mandate Goes into Effect at Baystate Health

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health announced it has successfully implemented its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy that was announced in July, with more than 99% (12,593) of employees in compliance.

As of Oct. 1, of the 12,593 employees in compliance, 419 received medical or religious exemptions. There are 145 of nearly 13,000 employees who are currently not compliant with the policy. Any employees not in compliance have been placed on unpaid administrative leave and will have two weeks to get vaccinated if they wish to continue their employment. Employees who have been partially vaccinated are continuing to work and must get their second dose as soon as they are eligible to stay in compliance with the policy.

Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, noted that the COVID-19 vaccine provides a critical and necessary path forward for public health.

“Getting vaccinated is the single most important and responsible step each of us can take to put an end to this devastating pandemic and protect patients, families, and each other, he said. “The safety and efficacy of rigorously tested, FDA-approved or authorized vaccines in preventing serious illness and death are clear. The best way to keep our care environment safe for both patients and caregivers during the current pandemic is the highly effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine. That is why we decided to make vaccination a condition of employment.

“I have had to weigh the pain of what will be workers losing their jobs against my personal responsibility to provide the safest environment for patients, which is best assured by a remarkably safe and effective vaccine,” Keroack added. “I want to thank our employees who proactively took this important step to assuring their personal health, the health of their colleagues, and the safety of patients and the community.”

Over the last several months, Baystate Health has conducted an extensive process for concerned employees to answer all questions related to the vaccine, provide emotional support in decision making, ensure that vaccines are easy to obtain, and address special concerns or requests for exemptions.

“We recognize that some employees have remained steadfast in their decision to not be vaccinated, but we must put safety first and follow through with our mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy,” Keroack said. “We appreciate the support we have received from our team members, patients, and community in moving forward with this decision.”

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, a number of vaccinations are already mandatory for employment, including measles, mumps, rubella, and influenza.