Some hospitals delay worker COVID-19 vaccine requirement
Hundreds of health care workers in Massachusetts have received COVID-19 vaccines in recent days to meet requirements, but thousands of employees remain unvaccinated, and some hospitals have delayed their deadlines.
Mass General Brigham, the state’s largest hospital system, plans to place unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave at the end of their shift on Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported. The company said about 1,900 employees, or about 3% of the 80,000-person workforce, remained unvaccinated Friday or had failed to submit documentation showing they had received at least one shot.
“We are mandating the vaccine because we want to do everything possible to protect you, your families, and our patients,” the company said in a memo Thursday to employees. “You make our system great, and we do not want to lose you as a result of this condition of employment.”
Another hospital system, Springfield-based Baystate Health, said it terminated 90 workers who remained unvaccinated Friday.
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With concerns over staff shortages, several hospitals have delayed vaccination deadlines through October and in some cases to Dec. 1.
The city of Burlington says more than 95% of municipal employees have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 95% rate is up from 90% in August when Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that effective Oct. 11 all city employees to either be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
“Vaccines are safe and highly effective against severe outcomes from COVID-19,” Weinberger said in a Friday statement. “I urge all Burlingtonians who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.”
Under the city’s policy, new hires are required to show proof of vaccination with no option to meet the policy requirements through testing.
City employees are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 14 days after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Boosters are recommended for those eligible but are not required for now.
New Hampshire is opening four new testing sites for COVID-19 that will each handle at least 150 tests per day, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The state is partnering with ClearChoiceMD to offer testing in Manchester, Claremont, Nashua and Newington. The sites will be open seven days per week, and the tests will be sent to a lab in Maine that has a one-day turnaround time, said Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette.
“This will help allow kids to return to in-person learning as possible,” she said. “We’re very excited to expand our testing program yet again.”
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine decreased over the past two weeks, going from 592 new on Sept. 30 to 569 on Thursday.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Saturday that there have been more than 97,000 positive cases of the virus and 1,095 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic.