Staff at Idaho’s largest employer may have to travel if they are not vaccinated against coronavirus. The health system management said it has been proven safe.
BOISE, Idaho – Employees of Idaho’s largest employer who do not plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccine may need to seek employment elsewhere if they do not comply or are exempted from a new vaccine requirement.
St. Luke announced Thursday the decision to require all employees to receive the first dose of the vaccination on Sept. 1
Travis Patrick works in Health Information Management for St. Luke and told KTVB that he feels the claim came without notice.
“We are a little shocked. To be it was something [that happened] so fast, ”Patrick said. “It is a very experimental drug. I do not trust it right now. It has had too many variables of occurrences. They say it’s safe, but it’s not. ”
However, leaders in St. Luke’s that it was now time for the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
“The evidence is overwhelming. The vaccines are not only safe, they are very effective, ”said St. Luke’s chief physician, Dr. Jim Souza.
The vaccines are still approved for emergency use (EUA) and are not approved by the FDA. For that reason, Patrick is not convinced that it is certain he will have more data on the long-term effects of the shot.
“[I don’t trust it] at this point, not until there has been at least two to three years or so of evidence about it, ”Patrick said.
The median time to an FDA vaccine study is 12 months, according to Dr. Souza.
St. Luke did not wait for FDA approval to require vaccines due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases among employees and the increase in the delta variant, Dr Souza said.
“We just do not want to have the luxury of waiting any longer to protect our patients and our people,” Souza said.
St. Luke’s President and CEO Chris Roth reiterated this sentiment.
“We felt it was the right time to take this next step in relation to the vaccine requirement,” Roth said.
It does not provide many opportunities for employees like Patrick who do not expect to qualify for a medical or religious exception.
“Patients are safe. We take every precaution to keep things clean, you know? Masks, gloves, suits, we wash our hands, we have hand cleaning stations everywhere. Said Patrick. “I should not have to worry about trying to come up with proof that I tried, why I do not want to take anything to try and keep working. Especially since some people do not deal directly with patients. ”
About 80% of St. Luke’s staff have been vaccinated, according to Souza. He said that the closer an employee works with patients, the more likely they are to be vaccinated. Doctors and nurses were found to be vaccinated at higher rates than custody.
Souza attributed this trend to the experiences that employees had while treating patients who had contracted the virus.