|Berkshire Health Systems Mandates COVID-19 Vaccination, Sets October Deadline|
|PITTSFIELD, MA – Berkshire Health Systems has announced it will require that all members of the BHS community to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 1, 2021.
“We have an obligation to our community to do everything we can to protect public health and safety,” said David Phelps, President and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems. “As healthcare workers, we rely on scientific data to guide our decisions, and in this case, the science has proven that vaccines are the most effective way of preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. With COVID-19 infections on the rise in the Berkshires and across the nation, we must ensure that we are doing everything possible, including mandatory vaccination, to continue protecting this community and curbing the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.”
Last week, the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) announced a statewide policy statement endorsing mandatory vaccination for all Massachusetts hospitals and health system employees. As an MHA member, BHS joined other hospitals across the state in supporting the MHA’s policy and affirming that mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective way to prevent its spread and protect public health.
In a memo to the BHS community, Phelps explained, “At BHS, the rate of employees who are fully vaccinated is approaching 80 percent. We are grateful to each one of you for taking this important step to ensure a safe environment for your patients, your colleagues, your family, and your friends. Still, as healthcare workers, we have a duty to protect and care for our community that compels us always to do more.”
All employees, caregivers, contractors, volunteers, and students working and learning within the health system will need to be fully vaccinated by October 1. The policy will include specific religious and medical exemptions.
BHS has been offering flexible vaccination hours at various locations in the county since December 2020, and will continue to do so in order to accommodate the needs of staff on all shifts and at all facilities. BHS will also continue providing information on vaccination, offering opportunities for employees to ask questions about vaccination in group settings, and addressing concerns in one-on-one counseling.