Employees of SEARHC must be vaccinated for COVID-19 to keep their jobs

SEARHC chief medical officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (SEARHC photo)

Employees of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC, must be vaccinated for COVID by June 30, or risk losing their jobs. The Tribal health consortium operates hospitals in Sitka and Wrangell, and clinics in Haines, Juneau and many smaller communities throughout Southeast Alaska. SEARHC staff and contractors were notified of the policy in late May.

According to the policy, all SEARHC employees must receive their first shot or single dose coronavirus vaccine by June 30. Those opting for a two-dose vaccine must receive the second shot by July 31.

It’s in step with a growing trend. In recent weeks hospitals across the country have begun mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.

In an email to all SEARHC staff and contractors dated May 24, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl wrote, “The health of our patients and communities is our top priority and an ongoing concern with the pandemic.”

“Similar to our policy for employees and contractors being vaccinated for influenza, it will now be required for our Consortium’s staff, external providers, students and contractors to have their COVID-19 vaccine,” he continued.

Employees who choose not to be vaccinated will be considered “voluntarily separated” from employment with SEARHC.

Staff who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a history of anaphylaxis or allergy to the vaccine, or oppose vaccinations based on religious grounds may choose to opt out, but they must provide documentation and receive a formal exception.

KCAW - Sitka

KCAW is our partner station in Sitka. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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