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UnityPoint Health Announces COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Employees

Natalie Krebs
West Des Moines-based UnityPoint Health will require its more than 33,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1.

West Des Moines-based UnityPoint Health has announced all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, amid the growing number of coronavirus infections.

The health system employs more than 33,000 people in its facilities across Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

UnityPoint said Thursday all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, even if they do not work directly with patients, or they will face termination.

“The continued wave of infections throughout the country make it clear we are not done fighting this pandemic, which means more people need to get vaccinated, especially before an anticipated increase of respiratory illnesses this fall," said Dave Williams, the chief clinical officer at UnityPoint, in a statement.

UnityPoint said employees can request an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or religious reasons. That's consistent with its policy for all vaccinations.

Additionally, it said pregnant employees will be "strongly encouraged" to get vaccinated, but they can request a temporary deferral.

UnityPoint Health is the latest health care system to require the COVID-19 vaccine for employees.

Last month, Michigan-based Trinity Health announced its requirement that all employees be vaccinated. The move affected seven MercyOne medical centers in Iowa.

This week, Tyson Foods, which employs 11,000 people in Iowa, announced employees will be required to be vaccinated by Nov. 1.

New coronavirus infections have been increasing in Iowa for more than a month. As of Thursday, 214 Iowans were hospitalized with the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 90 Iowa counties have substantial to high community spread of the virus.