WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A major hospital group announced Tuesday they will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for employees.
Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, which has 49 locations in Florida, will require all workers to be fully vaccinated against the virus by Jan. 4.
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HCA is the parent company of JFK Medical Center's campuses in Atlantis and West Palm Beach along with Palms West Hospital near Loxahatchee Groves.
Other area HCA-operated hospitals include St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce and Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee.
The CEO of HCA told employees that a first dose of the vaccine is required by Dec. 5, according to a report by WCTV in Tallahassee.
Below is a statement that HCA released to WPTV regarding the vaccine mandate:
In compliance with federal COVID-19 vaccination requirements, HCA Healthcare colleagues will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by January 4, 2022. We have plans in place based on processes, best practices and knowledge gained from our operations in states that have already mandated vaccination. Since COVID-19 vaccines became available earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as our infectious disease experts, have been strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus and the majority of HCA Healthcare colleagues have already been fully vaccinated. We are working with our colleagues to assist those that have not yet received the vaccine.
HCA joins Baptist Health hospitals, which include Boca Raton Regional and Bethesda East and West, with implementing a vaccine mandate for workers.
Before HCA's announcement, Baptist Health was the only local hospital group requiring COVID-19 vaccinations from its staff.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been fiercely opposed to requiring workers to be vaccinated against the virus, saying last week that the state will be suing the federal government to stop the new rules from taking effect.
The federal policy would affect tens of millions of Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees.
A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily blocked the Biden administration's new vaccine rules.
However, the White House said Monday that businesses should move forward with the requirements despite the ruling.