Health First to require COVID vaccines for all staff once fully approved by FDA

Health First announced on Monday that it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all of its staff when the Federal Drug Administration lifts the emergency-use authorization of the vaccines and fully approves them.

Health First, based in Brevard County, sent FOX 35 a copy of an email that was distributed to all Health First associates on Monday:

To: Health First Associates

From: Steve Johnson, Health First President & CEO, and Jeff Stalnaker, MD, Chief Clinical Officer

Subject: COVID-19 Vaccines

Dear Health First Associates,

First and foremost, we wish to thank you – the dedication, care and compassion you have shown to our customers as COVID-19 cases continue to rise have been truly inspiring. We recognize the tireless work you are providing to our community, and there simply are not enough words to express our gratitude. You have been exceptional in rising to the occasion.

As part of our responsibility to protect Brevard County, and after careful and considerable discussion, when the FDA lifts the Emergency Use Authorization for a vaccine and fully approves it, as a condition of employment, we will require all Health First associates to receive a COVID-19 vaccine—just as we do for flu vaccines. Exemptions would be considered for medical or religious reasons. We expect FDA approval soon.

Research has made one thing abundantly clear – the COVID-19 vaccine is extremely effective at protecting against the coronavirus. Even when people are vaccinated and contract COVID-19, they demonstrate a faster recovery and less severity of illness than those who are unvaccinated. Of those recently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida, 96% are unvaccinated and 97% of our COVID-19-positive patients are unvaccinated. Health First has provided 45,000 vaccine doses to community members and associates and have not had any significant adverse reactions. 

Thank you for your continued commitment to caring for our community as we all work to protect ourselves and Brevard in an effort to eradicate this devastating virus. Your goodwill, amazing work and dedication are so very appreciated. We will share updates on vaccination requirements and clinics as more information becomes available.

Steve and Jeff