Rhode Island's two largest health care systems are requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The announcements Tuesday by Lifespan and Care New England which are moving toward a merger come as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention issued new face covering guidelines.
"It is our responsibility to keep our patients, and our staff, safe. This program will be based on the best evidence that we have to date about preventing transmission of COVID-19,'' Dr. James Fanale, Care New England's chief executive, said in a statement.
Care New England said it would "move toward'' requiring vaccinations by first requiring that all managers receive the first dose before Labor Day. More details will be released within the next seven to 10 days.
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Lifespan announced that its vaccine mandate will go into effect Sept. 1, and it is the system's goal to have all employees show proof of immunization within 60 days, the organization said.
"As the region's leading health care system we feel no greater obligation than to the health and safety of our patients, staff and community, "Lifespan said in a statement. "Given the rise in transmission rates of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19, and recent recommendations from the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and other leading health care organizations, Lifespan will join other health care systems around the country in requiring all employees, regardless of their role, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.''
Lifespan operates Rhode Island, Hasbro Children's, Bradley, Newport, and The Miriam hospitals.
Care New England operates Butler, Kent, and Women & Infants hospitals.