LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two major health care systems in Kentucky — Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health — announced they are requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health are requiring COVID-19 vaccines for staff

  • Norton staff have until Sept. 15 to receive their first dose

  • Baptist Health said about 65-70% of its employees have received the vaccine

  • Baptist Health said employees are required to be vaccinated by Oct. 31

Norton Healthcare said it will allow for religious and medical exemptions.

"With recent surges in COVID-19 cases due to spread of the delta variant, we must ensure we are doing all we can to keep our employees, providers, patients and our community safe," Norton Healthcare President and CEO Russell Cox said. "Up until now, we had strongly encouraged our team members to receive the vaccine. But, now is the time to do more."

Team members who need to receive a vaccine must receive their first dose by Sept. 15, Cox added.

In an email to Spectrum News 1, a Baptist Health spokesperson said it is requiring employees to be vaccinated "due to the sharp rise in cases due to the delta variant, primarily among those who are unvaccinated." 

Employees are required to be vaccinated by Oct. 31, Baptist Health said. Those who can't get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons may apply for an exemption by Aug. 30, and those approved will be subject to periodic testing for COVID-19.

“Baptist Health staff members and providers were among the first to receive these life-saving vaccines as role models for others in our communities,” said Gerard Colman, Baptist Health CEO. “We know the vaccines are one of the best ways to combat this virus.

Baptist Health's requirement also extends to all contractors, independent licensed health care providers, students, vendors and "any other person performing onsite services at any Baptist Health facility," according to a release. 

Because the two-shot vaccines must be spaced 21 to 28 days apart depending on the vaccine — and it takes an additional 14 days after the second dose to be fully effective — employees must get their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine by Sept. 15, Baptist Health noted. Employees may also receive the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Baptist Health said that about 65-70% of its nearly 23,000 employees have received the vaccine.

In May, UofL Health announced that all team members and providers will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 Beginning Sept. 1. Med Center Health in Bowling Green and UK HealthCare in Lexington also announced vaccine requirements for employees.