The University of Missouri Health Care system is requiring its employees, students and providers to become fully vaccinated in response to COVID-19’s spreading delta variant.
Practitioners and students of medicine must become fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. Exemptions will be given to those with a medical condition or whose religious beliefs prevent them from getting the vaccine.
Safety of patients, employees and the community is the university system’s top priority, Jonathan Curtright, chief executive officer of MU Health Care, said in a statement Thursday.
“As a health system, our mission is to save and improve lives,” Curtright said. “We know vaccinations save lives.”
Vaccines already have been strongly encouraged for employees since they became widely available, said Rich Barohn, executive vice chancellor of health affairs. So far, nearly 70% of employees have been vaccinated — but Barohn says “we can do better.”
New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise across Missouri driven in large part by the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. Most new patients have not been fully vaccinated with the rare exception of some so-called breakthrough infections, according to health experts.
Other health systems across the country have started requiring vaccines of employees and others. In Kansas City, Truman Medical Center made a similar move last week, saying 70% of its employees had been vaccinated, and became one of the first in the region to do so.