Covenant Health releases statement on COVID-19 vaccine requirements

(KCBD (Blair Sabol))
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 4:05 PM CST
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**RELEASE From Covenant Health**

Since the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccines, Covenant Health has encouraged vaccines for our caregivers, patients, and community as the best way to fight against the COVID-19 virus. Vaccines have proven to reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease hospitalizations. We know that vaccination is our best path forward and out of this pandemic.

Previously, Covenant Health has not required the COVID-19 vaccine for any Texas caregiver. We have trusted caregivers to make the decision that is best for them, their families, and the communities they serve.

Through executive action, President Biden now requires any health care facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement to vaccinate all employees or have an approved medical or religious exemption. For weeks, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been evaluating the President’s order. On November 5, CMS released an interim final rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for most health care providers, including hospitals, that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Covenant Health ministries impacted include Covenant Medical Center, Covenant Children’s, Covenant Specialty Hospital, Covenant Health Plainview, Covenant Health Levelland, Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital, Grace Surgical Hospital, Hospice of Lubbock, Covenant Home Infusion, Covenant High Plains Surgery Center, Trustpoint Rehabilitation Hospital of Lubbock, and Covenant Diagnostic Imaging.

We consulted with our parent organization, Providence, legal representation, as well as state lawmakers, and at this time, Covenant Health will comply with the CMS interim final rule and require all workers either be vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption.

By December 6, 2021, all caregivers must either receive their first dose of the vaccination series for Pfizer or Moderna, or the single dose if choosing to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Those who plan to submit a medical or religious exemption must submit that exemption request by this date. By January 4, 2022, all caregivers must either have received the full series of their chosen COVID-19 vaccine or have an approved medical or religious exemption.

Caregivers impacted include employees, students, licensed practitioners, volunteers, and contract/agency staff. Covenant has processes in place to provide on-site vaccination to caregivers as well as track exemptions and caregiver vaccination status. Infection prevention precautions for caregivers with an approved exemption are being determined so that we may provide accommodations while continuing to protect the health and safety of our caregivers and patients.

Current orders, including dates and those impacted, are based off rules as of November 5 and are subject to change based on impact of legal action by various states.

The vaccine requirement decision is supported by the American Hospital Association (AHA). You can read the AHA statement here.

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