To mandate or not to mandate? The COVID vaccine question heats up in N.J. hospitals.

www.nj.com
6 min read
fairly difficult
After six supervisors were fired from RWJBarnabas Health, where New Jersey's hospitals stand with vaccine mandates.
The vaccine debate continues.

Six workers were recently fired by RWJBarnabas Health for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the hospital network announced this week. They were supervisory employees who failed to comply with the health system's June 30 mandate.

While the vaccine requirement applied to only supervisors at the time, RWJBarnabas Health expanded its mandate this week to include "all staff and physicians." A new deadline will be forthcoming, according to a spokeswoman.

The terminations were the latest skirmish in the debate over hospital worker inoculations, an issue health systems are facing in New Jersey and across the country: Should their employees be required or merely encouraged? As the highly contagious Delta variant continues to surge and new cases and hospitalizations in the state topped 800 and 400 respectively on Friday, there has been a renewed focus on vaccine efforts, including inside medical facilities.

Especially as millions of New Jersey residents remain unvaccinated.

While some hospital networks like RWJBarnabas Health are mandating vaccinations, many others have formulated voluntary policies, despite encouraging immunization among their employees.

Here's where the state's biggest health systems and organizations stand:

Atlantic Health

Atlantic Health is not mandating its employees get the vaccine. Yet more than 77% of team members have received at least one dose, according to a spokesman.

He referred to Atlantic's previous statement to NJ Advance Media regarding its vaccine policy, which said that the 77% were vaccinated "without mandating our team members to receive it."

"However, as an extra layer of protection for our patients, families and one another, Atlantic Health System is providing unvaccinated team members with the option to either receive the vaccine or to be tested weekly before reporting to work. Additionally, in accordance with NJDOH rules, universal masking is still required in all of our medical centers.…
Spencer Kent | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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