Aspirus provides more details on COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The Biden Administration on November 4 announced the details of two policies to help fight COVID-19 by expanding vaccination requirements. 

First, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that each of their workers is fully vaccinated or undergoes testing for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis. This policy does not apply to Aspirus. 

However, the second policy issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) does apply to Aspirus. It requires COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings, including hospitals and health systems, that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

“CMS is our licensing organization and we are obligated under this mandate to make sure that we continue with our conditions of participation,” said Aspirus SVP & Aspirus Wausau Hospital President Jeff Wicklander. “Also, to make sure that we create the safest environment for the patients in the communities that we serve.”

This means that Aspirus employees and medical staff members need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by specific dates or receive a valid medical or religious exemption. 

“Within the mandate, there are exemptions for religious as well as medical reasons. Those individuals will have required testing after an approved exemption,” Wicklander said.

While the CMS deadline for employees to receive their first shot is December 6, Aspirus has established an earlier deadline to allow time for the exemption process and ensure it can continue to serve the communities’ health care needs with excellence and compassion. 

CMS rules require health care workers to have their second vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) dose administered by January 4. 

“We are very much in support of the vaccination process regardless of what vaccine it is,” Wicklander said. “We know that it has been very effective for preventing hospitalizations and even those who are hospitalized are less ill than those who are unvaccinated.”