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Louisville’s Norton Healthcare ends COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees

A man in blue scrubs speaks to someone about getting vaccinated.
Indiana University
Norton Healthcare has ended its requirement that employees get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The health care system started requiring workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in the summer of 2021. Now, it has lifted that rule.

Norton Healthcare attributed the change in policy to the withdrawal of “employment regulations around COVID-19 vaccinations” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Servicesand Norton’s accrediting agency, DNV.

"We adapt our policies to assure patient safety and meet guidelines and regulations of our accrediting bodies and government agencies,” a spokesperson for Norton said in a statement to LPM News.

The U.S. government ended its public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 in May. That same month, President Joe Biden’s administration moved to end coronavirus vaccine requirements for health care facilities that are certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Though new hires at Norton no longer have to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the organization said it still advises its employees, contractors and other associates to do so.

Norton has over 18,000 employees, according to its website, and provides services at more than 340 sites in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

“While COVID-19 vaccination is no longer a requirement for employees, volunteers, vendors and contractors, we do still recommend it to reduce the risk and protect each other and our patients,” Norton said. “We also highly recommend it for those who are at risk of serious complications from the SARS-COV-2 virus."

The vaccines have greatly reduced people’s risk of getting hospitalized or dying because of a COVID-19 infection since they first became available in December 2020.

A new COVID-19 vaccine is tentatively expected to become available this fall. This week, an advisory panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended updating the vaccine to target a dominant subvariant of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The subvariant is called XBB.1.5, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported it accounted for 40% of new infections in late May and early June.

Morgan is LPM's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

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