LEWES — Beebe Healthcare will not require the COVID-19 vaccine for its employees, chief population health officer Dr. Bill Chasanov said during a virtual town hall Wednesday.
Dr. Chasanov said the health system encourages vaccinations and is offering staff incentives to receive it, while providing education.
“We still want a high number and as many as our team members who are eligible to receive the vaccine to receive it,” he said. “But as opposed to mandating it, what we have chosen to do is to incentive our team members to get the COVID-19 vaccine. We have decided to promote it in numerous ways internally and to provide incentives and to guide our team members to make a decision that is right for them.”
Other local health agencies have required the vaccine. ChristianaCare announced its mandate over the summer, and it went into effect Tuesday. Nemours Children’s Health also put a mandate in place Sept. 1.
Dr. Chasanov said he would not publicly say what percentage of Beebe’s employees are vaccinated but did note that it is a higher percentage than the rate for Delaware’s population. According to the Delaware Division of Public Health, 59.8% of Delaware’s total population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 78% of Delawareans 18 years old and older have had at least one dose.
“I am extremely proud of our number,” the doctor said. “It is a percentage rate which is significantly higher than the general population for the state of Delaware. We are very proud of us, as opposed to mandating something, incentivizing our team members to do what is right.”
Beebe will continue to encourage vaccinations, Dr. Chasanov said.
He said that while the vaccine does not fully prevent a person from getting infected with COVID-19, it offers protection against serious illness and hospitalization. For the week of Sept. 6-12, the most recent available DPH data, 78% of Delaware’s COVID-19 hospitalizations were not fully vaccinated.
Of all Delawareans who have been vaccinated, 0.57% have experienced breakthrough cases of COVID-19 (2,900 of 512,701) as of Sept. 17, according to DPH.
Beebe’s leaders also encouraged the community to receive their flu vaccinations, as flu season typically runs from October to March with the peak occurring in December. Beebe has nine flu clinics scheduled from this Monday to Monday, Oct. 11 and more will be announced on Oct. 4.
More information on upcoming flu clinics, times and street addresses is available by calling Beebe’s Flu Hotline at 302-291-6FLU (6358) or visit https://www.beebehealthcare.org/flu-clinic.
Dr. David A. Tam, president & CEO of Beebe, said individuals do not have to wait days between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine.
“The last thing you want is to have COVID and also the flu,” Dr. Tam said. “That will be a terrible thing for you. We want you to be protected.”