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Largest Nebraska hospital systems are mandating employees to get COVID-19 vaccine
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Largest Nebraska hospital systems are mandating employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

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To jab or not to jab - Why health workers in the US are at the center of a debate over vaccine mandates.

Nebraska's largest hospital systems on Thursday announced plans to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a joint statement, leaders from Bryan Health, CHI Health and Nebraska Medicine joined several other health care organizations in making the announcement, which did not offer details of when the vaccine would be required or what consequences employees might face if they do not get vaccinated.

"To ensure the safety of our patients, employees and communities, several of Nebraska’s leading health systems will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19," the statement said. "The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective at protecting against serious infection and hospitalization. More than 125 professional health associations and health care systems are calling for mandatory vaccination of health care professionals.

"Each of our organizations take very seriously the responsibility of providing health care to people of all ages and all backgrounds in our communities," the statement said. "Vaccination against COVID-19 is an important step to stop the pandemic and allow our teams to work in the safest way possible."

The statement said employees and physicians can apply for a medical or religious exemption to being vaccinated.

Other organizations that signed on to the statement were Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals and Midwest Surgical Hospital.

The vaccine mandate will cover tens of thousands of employees across the state, including several thousand in Lincoln. CHI Health owns a dozen hospitals in Nebraska, including St. Elizabeth and Nebraska Heart, while Bryan Health owns hospitals in Crete and Central City in addition to its Lincoln campuses.

The hospitals join several across the country that have mandated vaccines among employees as COVID-19 cases continue to spike because of the delta variant. They also join a number of other private employers that are requiring employee vaccinations.

Last week, Tyson Foods, which employs thousands of people in Nebraska, said it would require its employees to get vaccinated.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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