A Sioux Falls-based health system will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff before Nov. 1.
Sanford Health announced earlier today that any employees who do not comply with the policy are subject to termination after the Nov. 1 deadline. Religious and medical exemptions are available.
The announcement comes amid concerns regarding the delta variant, and its spread within the state. South Dakota has detected 12 cases of the variant so far, but more are expected.
Dr. Jeremy Cauwels is the chief physician at Sanford Health.
“We want to keep our employees safe. We want to keep our residents safe, we want to keep our patients safe.” Cauwels says, “And as we look to that, the easiest way and the most uniform way to do that is to take our vaccination rate from the 70% it is right now up to 100%.”
Sanford is the first health system in the region to announce a vaccine mandate. Dr. Cauwels says Sanford reached out to other providers, but they weren’t prepared to take the same step.
“So this was something we decided that we needed to lead on our own and decide this was where we wanted to be in the space, particularly associated with what was going on nationally.”
A spokesman for Monument Health in Rapid City says that health system has not made a decision about the issue.
A representative from Avera Health in Sioux Falls was not available for comment.
Over 53 percent of South Dakotans 12 and older have completed the full vaccine series.