BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Three major Massachusetts hospital systems — Beth Israel Lahey Health, Mass General Brigham, and Wellforce — announced Thursday that they will be requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Beth Israel Lahey Health President and CEO Kevin Tabb said in a video message that the hospital system is moving toward requiring vaccinations because "the current COVID vaccines — which about 85 percent of our staff have already gotten — are authorized under Emergency Use Authorizations, or EUAs, by the federal government. We expect those EUAs to be lifted in the weeks or months ahead and that COVID-19 vaccines will be fully licensed by the FDA later this year."
Tabb said vaccinations will not be required until the EUA is lifted because some staff would be more comfortable getting a vaccine once it is formerly licensed by the FDA.
"[We] have a duty to protect our patients," Tabb said. "I think it would be very hard for any of us, either individually or collectively as an organization, to live with ourselves knowing that we have put our patient s at risk and exposed them and potentially caused harm or death if we can avoid it. And we can avoid it."
Mass General Brigham also announced Thursday that it will require 80,000 employees to get COVID shots once the FDA approves one of the three vaccines. More than 85% of employees have already been vaccinated.
"Over the past 16 months we have come together as a system to care for our patients and each other as never before and the efforts of our employees have been extraordinary and inspiring," Dr. Anne Klibanski, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham, said. "The evidence of COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness is overwhelming. 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."
Meanwhile, in a system-wide email to staff, Wellforce said it will "require those who work within our hospitals and health system to be vaccinated against COVID-19 following the full FDA approval of one of the current vaccines. We anticipate this happening later this year."
Hospitals in the Wellforce system include Lowell General Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, and MelroseWakefield Healthcare.