CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2020
Hilton Raethel, executive director of the Hawaii Association of Healthcare
Four of Hawaii’s major hospital systems announced today that they are requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and are joining a rapidly growing pool of national health care employers who are prescribing the vaccine.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii, the state trade group for hospitals and nursing homes, also announced today that it supports a vaccination mandate for healthcare workers.
The vaccine mandates come amid rising COVID cases in Hawaii and nationally as the highly contagious Delta variant prevails.
In just two weeks, the state’s average number of cases has risen 163%. On Friday, the state reported a record of 622 new infections, followed by 485 on Saturday and 452 on Sunday, the three highest daily numbers since the pandemic began.
The guidelines vary slightly by hospital and are expected to include limited exceptions.
Adventist Health Castle requires employees to be vaccinated by September 30th, while Hawaii Pacific Health and Queen’s Health System have set October 1st as the deadline for employees to be vaccinated. Kaiser Permanente also said its employees need to be vaccinated.
Hawaii Pacific Health has also stated that any employee who receives a medical or religious exception from the vaccine must be regularly tested for COVID.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii also supports mandatory vaccinations, with the caveat that the Food and Drug Administration first gives full approval for at least one of the available vaccines.
President Joe Biden recently said that such approval could come sometime between late August and October. The trade group also recommends making exceptions for medical or religious reasons.
“Our board of directors voted overwhelmingly in favor of this decision,” said Hilton Raethel, President and CEO of HAH, in a press release. “This is the right thing to do to protect patients, residents and staff, and the entire community.”