LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Centra held a news conference Monday afternoon and further announced plans to require all 7,600 caregivers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November in order to keep communities safe as the region faces another surge of cases.
“As a regional healthcare provider, it is our responsibility to take a stand and do our part to protect those who place their trust in us,” said Richard Tugman, Interim Centra President and CEO. “We feel a deep commitment to setting the example.”
According to Centra, Lynchburg and the surrounding metro area currently have the second-lowest vaccination rate in the Commonwealth. More specifically, the region’s vaccination rate is reportedly hovering around 35.6 percent, which is far below the target rate of 70 percent to combat COVID-19 effectively.
Meanwhile, increasing COVID-19 rates are often closely linked to areas with low vaccination rates, health officials say. As the largest employer in this geographic area, Centra says its vaccination rates greatly impact the ability to limit community spread.
“We recognize the profound truth that getting vaccinated is the single most effective tool in slowing and even stopping the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Chris Lewis, Centra Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer. “By taking this step, we are further protecting the health of our Caregivers, patients, and community.”
Centra says that all caregivers — including medical staff and contractors — must receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by Oct. 1 and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1
Caregivers may receive their COVID vaccine through onsite Centra clinics, personal providers, local pharmacies, or facilities of their choice. However, health officials say that exemptions will be allowed for certain religious beliefs or medical conditions.
“As Caregivers, Centra is focused on healing. Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine is one way Centra can continue to provide the healing necessary for our communities to stop the spread of this virus,” Centra said in a statement on Monday, Aug. 16. “This vaccine requirement, paired with ongoing mask requirements and social distancing within facilities, helps ensure Centra does its part in protecting the communities they serve.”
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