Henry Ford Health System will require the COVID-19 vaccination for its workforce effective Sept. 10, including all team members, students, volunteers, and contractors; becoming the first health system in Michigan to do so, officials said Tuesday.
“We acknowledge the magnitude of this decision and we did not make it lightly,” says Wright Lassiter III, president and CEO of the HFHS. “As a leader and trusted voice in our communities, our patients and members depend on us to create a safe, healthy environment. We owe that same promise to our team members. Safety and infection prevention are everyone’s responsibility.”
The vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA, beginning with Pfizer in December 2020. Since vaccinations began at Henry Ford on Dec. 17, 2020, Henry Ford’s vaccination rate across the health system is 68 percent, or just over 23,000 team members. In Michigan, 61.4 percent of people ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Vaccinations are credited with the sharp decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases, as well as a vastly lower positivity rate. Total COVID-19 admissions across all HFHS hospitals are around 20, the lowest since the early days of the pandemic.
Lassiter says Henry Ford has been at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine research, serving as a Phase 3 study site for three vaccine adult clinical trials: the two-dose Moderna vaccine and one-dose and two-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In May, the health system began enrolling volunteers in a Moderna vaccine study for children ages 6 months to 11 years old.
“We have consistently advocated for vaccination as the best path forward for all of us,” says Bob Riney, president of Healthcare Operations and chief operating officer. “But for vaccinations to truly make a deep and lasting impact on this pandemic, we need everyone in this fight. There is no greater compassion we can show each other than to be vigilant about safety and preventing the spread of this devastating disease.”
Lassiter says the decision to require a COVID-19 vaccination is consistent with existing vaccination policy at Henry Ford. Team members are required to get a flu shot every year and stay current with other vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough.
“At the end of the day, we want all of our team members to be safe and healthy – protected from this virus and protecting those around them,” Lassiter says. “When it comes to this complex decision, we will do the best and safest thing we can to achieve that goal. We are not the first healthcare organization to do this, and we will not be the last.”