Tribal Leaders’ Health Board requiring COVID-19 vaccinations

Courtesy photo

RAPID CITY (AP) — The Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board is requiring all its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The board’s CEO, Jerilyn Church, has sent a memo to staff that says those working under the Health Board banner, including the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center, Oyate Health Center, and the We Are Warriors EOC will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 21.

“In accordance with GPTLHB’s duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of known hazards, GPTLHB has adopted this policy to safeguard the health of our employees and their families, our relatives and visitors, and the community at large from infectious diseases that vaccinations reduce,” said Church.

Currently, 74% of the Health Board’s staff has received the vaccine, according to officials. But, with numbers on the rise and the emergence of the delta variant, mandatory vaccinations for all staff is a logical next step for the organization, Church said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines. The aggressive delta variant is spreading across the nation and some communities are reporting increases in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people.

The VA’s move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and health care organizations issued a call for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated.

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