01STOCK_VACCINE

JANESVILLE

The Mercyhealth system announced Friday that it would charge a fee to any employee who doesn’t get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The fee will range from $60 to $265 per month, depending on what the employee is paid, according to a news release.

The “vast majority” of Mercyhealth employees are already vaccinated and wear masks in all patient areas, according to the release.

“Those who remain unvaccinated will be tested on a weekly basis and required to wear a mask at all times, even in non- patient facing areas,” the release continues.

The fee “recognizes the additional risk and added cost to Mercyhealth of being unvaccinated,” the release states, noting that 16-year-old drivers pay higher insurance costs because their age group is at higher risk for losses to the insurance company.

“We require all of our staff, in all they do each day, to assure patient safety while serving our patients,” Mercyhealth President and CEO Javon Bea is quoted as saying. “The new policy provides employees a choice while also encouraging them to get vaccinated, and the requirement of weekly testing and masking at all times assures patient safety.”

The release references research showing that unvaccinated employees are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19, be out of work for an indefinite amount of time and have increased hospitalization rates, exposing Mercyhealth to “additional risk and costs.”

“Mercyhealth continues to follow the science, and it is clear: The COVID-19 vaccine prevents serious illness, hospitalization and death, infectious diseases, and are (sic) the best way to battle this pandemic,” the release states.

SSM Health offered exemptions for medical or religious reasons. The Mercyhealth news release did not mention an exemption.

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