GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Mercy Health workers in West Michigan will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their jobs after parent company Trinity Health announced Thursday it would require the shots.
Trinity Health said in a release that “all colleagues, clinic staff, contractors, and those conducting business in its health care facilities” must be vaccinated. It has set rolling deadlines, but most must get their shots by Sept. 21. Those who don’t show proof of vaccination by then will be fired.
Some exceptions may be granted based on health or religious reasons.
In all, the mandate affects some 117,000 employees in 22 states. In Michigan, that includes 24,000 workers at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System hospitals, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, Mercy Health Mercy Campus in Muskegon, Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus in the village of Shelby and the IHA and Mercy Health Physician Partners medical groups.
“As a faith-based health care system we have pledged to protect the most vulnerable, those that have a high risk of developing severe health complications if they were to contract this deadly virus,” Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Trinity Health Michigan and Southeast Regions, said in a statement. “We are grateful to all colleagues working inside our hospitals, and specifically those navigating the frontlines. We understand that not everyone will agree with this decision, but after listening to their feedback, and after careful consideration, we know this to be the right decision.”
Trinity, which previously strongly encouraged but did not require the shots, said about 75% of its workers have already gotten at least one vaccine dose.
Henry Ford Health System on the southeastern side of the state announced a similar requirement late last month.
Across the state of Michigan, 62% of all residents age 16 and up have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state is aiming for 70%. In an effort to reach that goal, state health officials have partnered with Meijer to host a sweepstakes giving away some $5 million in cash prizes and scholarships to those who get at least one dose.