ROCKFORD (HOI) -- OSF HealthCare announced Wednesday that all its employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"We have thoughtfully made the decision to require all Mission Partners (employees) to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September of this year," the press release read.
"We did not make this decision lightly," said OSF COO Dr. Mike Cruz in a statement, "As health care providers, it is our ethical obligation to be vigilant about the safety of our patients. Vaccinations are credited with the decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases across the country and throughout our Ministry, and we firmly believe that vaccination against COVID-19 is the best way to keep our patients and Mission Partners safe."
OSF says this mandate is consistent with "existing OSF vaccination policies" that already require employees to get a flu shot every year and stay current with other vaccinations.
The release says some people can be exempted for religious or medical reasons, but those exemptions must be formally requested, documented, and approved.
"Any Mission Partner who does not qualify for an exemption and who chooses not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may be subject to our disciplinary processes which could result in loss of employment."- OSF Healthcare announcement
HOI ABC requested a follow-up interview with a spokesperson from OSF St. Francis, but OSF said they will not be doing interviews on the matter.
OSF Healthcare has nearly 24,000 employees in 150 locations in Illinois and Michigan.
An OSF spokesperson said 65% of their employees ministry-wide are fully vaccinated but would not comment on their vaccine rate locally or statewide.
This announcement makes OSF Healthcare the first major employer in central Illinois to require its employees to be vaccinated.
Employees have until September.