Valleywise Health will require all employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 1, a decision that highlights safety as the system’s top priority.

“We care for populations hardest hit by the pandemic and we have a responsibility to take every measure possible to ensure the safest care environment,” Steve Purves, President and CEO, said. “The evidence is compelling and clear: Available vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, especially the severe illness and death it can cause. Vaccines also reduce the risk people will spread the virus that causes COVID19.”

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The announcement comes as many care providers across Arizona and the country have implemented such a requirement based on conclusive evidence that vaccines are safe, effective and critically important to saving lives and bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With limited exceptions for specific religious or medical reasons, the requirement applies to more than 4,000 Valleywise Health employees, including remote workers and those who don’t work directly with patients, as well as District Medical Group medical staff, residents, students, volunteers and on-site vendors.

“We are first and foremost a safe, clinical enterprise,” Purves said. “Our ultimate duty is to protect the health and safety of our employees, patients and families, visitors and the community.”

More than 340 million vaccine doses have been safely administered in the United States. Recent national data shows that nearly all recent COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths have occurred in the unvaccinated population.