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CentraCare, Carris Health requiring COVID-19 vaccine for all employees

More than 92% of CentraCare physicians and 94% of advanced practice providers have received the COVID-19 vaccine since it first became available in December 2020. CentraCare has also administered more than 174,000 vaccine doses to members of its communities.

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The first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered in December 2020 to three frontline Carris Health workers during a public event in Willmar touting the vaccine and other pandemic safety measures. CentraCare, parent of Carris Health, announced Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, that it is requiring vaccination for all employees and clinicians. The health care system said 92% of physicians and 94% of advanced practice providers have already received the vaccine. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

ST. CLOUDCentraCare announced Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccine is now a requirement for all of its employees and clinicians, according to a news release from the health care provider.

According to the news release, the COVID-19 vaccination requirement applies to all CentraCare and Carris Health employees, including those who are working remotely, as well as others working within the system's facilities, which includes contracted employees, volunteers and students.

More than 92% of CentraCare physicians and 94% of advanced practice providers have received the COVID-19 vaccine since it first became available in December 2020. CentraCare has also administered more than 174,000 vaccine doses to members of its communities.

"But the pandemic is not over. The virus is still greatly impacting our communities and the delta variant is reaching populations that have not been impacted before. As a health care organization, we have made a commitment to do everything in our power to save lives, protect patients and educate the community during this crisis. Because the health of our patients — and our staff members — means everything," reads part of the release.

CentraCare employees have until Dec. 15, 2021, to complete their vaccinations series.

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"We did not come to this decision lightly and believe the decision to require vaccination best serves the collective good of our staff and community," Dr. Ken Holmen, president and CEO of CentraCare, said in the release. "The science shows us that no other strategy has proven to be more effective in fighting this virus."

A process for requesting a medical or religious exemption will be shared with employees.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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