DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (AP) — Advocate Aurora Health will require its 75,000 employees in Illinois and Wisconsin to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 15, the hospital group announced Wednesday.
With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading nationwide, Advocate Aurora inpatient COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased five-fold over the past three weeks, and the system’s test positivity rate is the highest it’s been since January, the system said.
“Our ultimate duty is to protect the health and safety of our team members, patients and communities,” President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh told employees in a video. “The data is overwhelming. This vaccine is safe, and it’s highly effective in preventing infection and even more so, serious illness and death.”
Advocate Aurora’s decision came as many care providers and organizations across the country have implemented such requirements based on conclusive evidence that vaccines are safe, effective and critical to saving lives and ending the pandemic.
Recent national data shows that nearly all recent COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among unvaccinated people, the system said.
The mandate includes remote workers, volunteers and on-site vendors, Some exceptions will be allowed for religious or medical reasons.