Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health (Chicago, Ill) today announced the national health system will require all colleagues, doctors, contractors and those conducting business in its healthcare facilities be vaccinated against COVID-19, effective immediately.

The requirement applies to Trinity Health’s more than 117,000 employees in 22 states nationwide in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and keep all patients, colleagues and the broader communities safe. This includes 9,523 employees including employed physicians, plus 500 affiliated community physicians.

Since December 2020, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization, Trinity Health has strongly encouraged vaccination for all colleagues and within the communities its various Health Ministries serve. To date, Loyola Medicine estimates nearly 80% of its employees have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, and it now looks to close the gap with this new requirement.

“As health care professionals, we are responsible for doing everything we can to end the pandemic and save lives in our communities,” said Shawn P. Vincent, president and chief executive officer of Loyola Medicine. “We must do everything we can to protect our colleagues, our patients and our communities.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate more than 331 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The vaccines have proven to be safe and effective against symptomatic infections, hospitalizations and death with more than 99% of COVID-19 deaths today occurring in unvaccinated people.

“The safety of our patients, residents, colleagues, physicians and communities is a top priority for us,” said Richard K. Freeman, MD, MBA, FACS, regional chief clinical officer of Loyola Medicine. “The COVID-19 vaccine will help us slow, and potentially stop, the spread of COVID-19, ultimately saving lives.”

Employees at Trinity Health and Loyola Medicine must meet a series of rolling deadlines, with most locations requiring them to submit proof of vaccination by September 21, 2021. It has not yet been determined if a COVID-19 vaccine booster will be required annually, but if so, employees will also need to submit proof of the booster as needed. Exemptions are available for religious or health reasons and must be formally requested, documented and approved. Employees who do not meet criteria for exemption and fail to show proof of vaccination will face termination of employment.