Spectrum Health requires COVID-19 vaccine
Decision driven by health, safety of teams and community, and scientific evidence
July 28, 2021
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 28, 2021 – With a focus on the health and safety of its team members and the community, along with thorough review of the scientific evidence, 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 & 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 over 95%.
- 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% of people with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 will develop at least one long-haul symptom.
- The delta variant has been reported as 225% more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus from 2019.
- As of July 20, data from CDC indicates that up to 83% of all current COVID-19 cases are due to the delta variant, which is an increase from 50% 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, DO, 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, demonstrating the safety and effectiveness initially identified in the clinical trials against symptomatic infections, hospitalizations and death.
“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,” said Freese Decker. “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 our local communities.
Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan. People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.