Valley Health — parent company of Winchester Medical Center, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital and Warren Memorial Hospital — announced Monday that it will require all of its employees, providers and contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning Nov. 1.

For all new employees joining the health system, the requirement takes effect immediately, a Valley Health news release says. New employees must either provide evidence of the COVID vaccination or become fully vaccinated two weeks before beginning work.

Team members who remain unvaccinated beyond their assigned deadline and don’t have an approved exemption will face suspension or termination.

Valley Health’s medical staff members and employees who are managers or above must provide evidence of prior completion of the vaccination series or receive their first dose by Aug. 16, according to Valley Health.

All other unvaccinated staff members have until Oct. 1 to receive their first dose and until Nov. 1 to complete the series. Free vaccines are provided at locations throughout Valley Health as well as area pharmacies and local Health Department vaccination sites.

Valley Health has 6,300 employees and affiliated physicians across its network of six hospitals and medical office partners.

The vaccination rate among employees is 65% and climbing, a spokesperson confirmed on Monday. The COVID-19 vaccine has been added to a list of other vaccines that are also required for Valley Health employees. Proof of vaccination for is also required for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis as well as screening for tuberculosis.

The move comes as the larger medical community becomes more certain of the vaccine’s long-term safety and effectiveness, says Valley Health President and CEO Mark Nantz.

“With a growing body of evidence demonstrating how safe and effective the vaccines are, we believe requiring our staff to take this step to stop the spread of the virus is the most responsible course of action,” Nantz says in the release. “Every patient, every community member, and every employee must know that safety is our top priority, and when visiting any Valley Health facility they should feel confident we have done all we can to keep them safe."

Staff who are unable to receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons may apply for an exemption, which Valley Health officials say will be carefully and confidentially evaluated.

“The science is clear,” Dr. Jeffrey Feit, Valley Health population and community health officer, says in the release. “[M]ore than 3.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide.

“The vaccines have proven to be very safe and highly effective in preventing hospitalizations, death, and spread of the virus,” he continues. “The effects of COVID-19 illness are far more concerning than those of the vaccine.”

Also on Monday, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association announced its support of vaccine requirements for health-care workers.

“When the COVID-19 vaccines were first released, the VHHA and its members strongly encouraged all Virginians, particularly hospital and health system employees, to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” a VHHA release says. “In the months since, the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be extraordinarily safe and effective and have resulted in case counts and hospitalizations declining to their lowest levels since the pandemic began."

For more information, visit valleyhealthlink.com.

(24) comments

delynemmac

I am so grateful for this mandate among the health care workers at WMC and so, so disheartened by the protesters I saw there today, gumming up traffic and making difficult jobs harder. Many thanks to those who have been working hard to keep our community healthy and well over the past year and a half!

BillboBaggins

I’m not ready to state all businesses should mandate vaccines. However medical personnel, airline employees and cruise ships should mandate vaccines for all of their employees.

shinyhappypeople

Thank you, Valley Health. It’s about time the covid Chicken Littles have to make uncomfortable choices rather than subject the non-science denying public to their idiocy. You have the right to not be vaccinated. But you dont have the right to run around screaming “fire” in every theater, and you’re allowing worse strains to take affect and threaten everyone (even those vaccinated) because you are too ignorant to believe in science over conspiracy theories. Stay in your basement and go one and all virtually anywhere you please. But it’s HIGH TIME grocery stores, shopping centers, public transportation etc…started making proof of vaccination a requirement. Quit placating freedumb-dumbs.

Deus_Vult

You're the "idiot" denying science. If you're vaxxed, and you believe said vax is effective, then you shouldn't be worried on whether others around have received it. What it's really about is your obsession to control the lives of others. By the way, mutant strains of viruses are weaker, not stronger...SCIENCE!

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-virus-mutations-stronger-strain-experts.html

Bubba Smith

https://thecovidblog.com/

Bubba Smith

This is absolute insanity. I hope valley health is sued massively. Mandating an unapproved, experimental drug be taken by all employees, especially by a so called healthcare company, is wrong in so many ways. It's despicable and criminal. You're nuts if you take this poison.

Chris 22602

Freedom. Thanks to the GOP in Virginia, businesses can fire you at will because of their freedom 🤷🏻‍♂️

Bubba Smith

Hello

Deus_Vult

I hope that any employee that's forced to take the jabs to maintain employment and suffers any injury from them sues their employers. If VHS is going to mandate such things, they should be held liable.

Deus_Vult

"Extraordinarily safe and effective"......unless you're one of 5500 in the Scotland killed by the vaccine:

https://dailyexpose.co.uk/2021/07/18/5522-people-have-died-within-28-days-of-having-a-covid-19-vaccine-in-scotland-according-to-public-health-scotland/

Makes you wonder what the death toll is in the US....

Bubba Smith

It's astonishing that valley health would do this. I hope everyone quits and sues them. Mandating this poison is a criminal act. There isn't a vaccine. This is a clinical trial. Why are people so stupid about this?

BillboBaggins

Hospitals in Texas mandated the vaccine for their employees and they sued and lost. These anti-vaxxers here will lose as well.

Deus_Vult

That decision is on appeal and no, I'm not "anti-vax" so you can shove it with your gaslighting garbage.

Bubba Smith

Winchester Star is censoring free speech and science based facts that there isn't a vaccine and people are dying. A bunch of communists who hate humainty.

TheOneAndOnlyNuri

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

BillboBaggins

Bubba, you’ve described this as communistic and nazism. I think you need a civics refresher course.

hagansan

A century ago unapologetic health officials tracked down tuberculosis victims and Typhoid Marys in order to protect the general population. It was, and still is, the rational response to cruel and deadly infectious disease. There is simply no rational reason for health workers, or anyone else, to abstain from Covid vaccination.

Bubba Smith

There's no place in the world for your Nasism.

BillboBaggins

🤣🤣🤣

BillboBaggins

I agree.

Amerhome

Congratulations and thank you Valley Health for requiring COVID vaccines for all employees except those that don't have an approved exemption! You will undoubtedly receive a lot of pushback from people who have been badly misinformed about the relative risks of COVID shots compared to their benefit. Giving current employees more than three months in the current healthy job market to seek a position with an employer whose workplace poses less risk of exposure to its clients is a fair approach. You have set a good example that hopefully other hospitals and other institutions that pose inherent risks of Coronavirus transmission will follow. These include airlines, cruise ships, and nursing homes as well as other situations where close human contact is unavoidable or whose clients are particularly vulnerable.

Bubba Smith

There isn't a vaccine for Covid. This is a criminal act and I hope they get sued big time.

BillboBaggins

Bubba, then don’t get vaccinated. Simple. However if you get covid, we don’t want to hear you complaining.

BillboBaggins

Totally agree.

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