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Some East TN medical facilities to resume vaccine requirement for employees

Tennova and East Tennessee Children's Hospital said they plan to require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19, or provide a valid exemption.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Some East Tennessee medical organizations said Tuesday they would require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 after a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed the federal mandate for healthcare workers to continue while also pausing it for businesses.

Tennova said unvaccinated employees will be expected to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 27 or submit an approved medical or religious exemption. A spokesperson said the majority of caregivers already chose to get the vaccine.

East Tennessee Children's Hospital also said employees will need to get their first shot by Jan. 27 or submit an approved exemption. They would then need to get the second dose by Feb. 28, according to a spokesperson from the hospital.

On Jan. 20, a spokesperson with Covenant Health said that they planned to follow the requirements of the federal mandate and would require healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated or be granted a qualifying exemption by Feb. 28. They said following federal guidelines helped them continue participating in Medicare and Medicaid/Tenncare.

WBIR reached out for and was awaiting comment from the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

The hospitals previously planned to require workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19, following a federal policy that mandated it. But those plans were put on hold while the federal policy made its way through the courts and was challenged in several states, eventually landing in the Supreme Court.

On Jan. 13, justice stopped the Biden administration's push to require employees at large businesses to get vaccinated or test regularly. However, they allowed a federal requirement for most healthcare workers in the U.S. to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

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