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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

All Spokane hospitals will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Pre-filled with measured out doses of the Moderna vaccine Jan. 22, 2021 at a pop-up clinic at Providence Holy Family Hospital in North Spokane.  (By Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

All hospital employees and many health care workers in Spokane County will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, after Providence announced on Friday that all of its employees will be required to get their shots.

Earlier this week, the Washington State Hospital Association endorsed requiring vaccines for all hospital employees, and MultiCare hospitals announced they would heed that recommendation. Now, Providence hospitals have followed suit.

Kaiser Permanente also announced earlier this week that all employees will be required to get vaccinated .

The vaccine requirement will apply to all Providence employees in clinics and hospitals, and those who do not get vaccinated will be required to sign a form, submit to enhanced COVID-19 testing and get vaccine education.

The Washington State Medical Association, as well as many national health care groups, have supported requiring vaccines in health care settings.

“Everyone working on the front lines of health care should be getting the vaccine to protect their patients and their families,” Dr. Nathan Sclicher, an ER doctor and president of WSMA, told reporters on Monday.

Vaccination rates among health care workers vary by hospital , as well as by position.

Sclicher said a survey of physicians in the state from the association found that 96% are vaccinated.

Data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare show that vaccination rates in other health care settings, like long-term care facilities, are much lower among staff.

At MultiCare facilities statewide, about 70% of staff are vaccinated, according to Florence Chang, chief operating officer of MultiCare.

Throughout all Kaiser Permanente locations in several states, 77.8% employees and more than 95% of physicians have been fully vaccinated.

Providence did not release the current vaccination status of their employees.

“The policy change announced this week is one step toward achieving a fully vaccinated workforce, which we strongly believe is the right thing to do for our patients and caregivers,” a statement from Providence says. “To ensure difficult-to-reach caregivers have the information they need, we are distributing materials in multiple languages and asking managers to discuss the importance of getting vaccinated with their team members.”

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.