ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Washington University and BJC announced all employees and trainees will be required to have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Proof of full vaccination will be required by this fall. Exemptions may be granted for medical contraindications and for religious beliefs, following a case-by-case basis evaluation. 

"We believe that a fully vaccinated campus will allow us to bring back the bulk of our workforce and lift many of the public health restrictions that have been in place for over a year," the university announced in a press release.

Previously, students were informed vaccinations would be required for the fall semester. Last week, Saint Louis University announced Wednesday all students and employees who plan to be on campus this fall must be vaccinated.

“As a health care provider, major employer and a community leader, BJC wants to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our patients, our valued workforce, and our communities safe,” said Rich Liekweg, BJC's president and CEO in a news release. “The available vaccines are among the most effective and safest ever developed. We are pleased that across our organization, we have reached a nearly 75% employee vaccination rate. We are now focused on ensuring the 25% of our employees who have not yet been vaccinated have access to factual information and can easily obtain the vaccine in advance of the fall respiratory illness season.”

BJC said 75 percent of their staff has been vaccinated. BJC said the remaining 25 percent of its staff that's unvaccinated must receive the shot by September 15 or risk getting suspended and then terminated even if they previously contracted COVID-19. 

“We had initially thought we would wait for the FDA to move it from emergency use authorization to a fully licensed drug. That seems like it’s inevitable at this point. Very few drugs have ever had this kind of exceptional record before they’ve been approved," said Clay Dunagan, BJC's chief clinical officer. 

Dunagan said there was discussion about possible lawsuits that could stem from this decision, but adds the safety of employees and patients was more important. 

“Anytime you take the action to make something mandatory you know there is a risk, but as managers of a large complex health system, we have to weigh the decisions carefully and in our minds, there is absolutely no questions that we are doing more for the safety of our employees by insisting on vaccinating on and for the safety of our patients than if we let things ride," said Dunagan. 

 

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