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Why we’re requiring COVID-19 vaccination for some employees

Key Takeaways

  • We are requiring COVID-19 vaccination for around 800 employees who have regular, in-person contact with members, employer group customers, health care providers and community members, as well as our executive team.
  • Our goal is to protect the health of BlueCross employees and the people we serve. Members who need in-person support services should be able to trust we’re doing everything we can to protect their health.
  • Once a COVID-19 vaccine has received full FDA approval, affected employees will have six weeks to get fully vaccinated and submit proof of vaccination.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve focused on a simple goal: protecting the health of BlueCross employees while continuing to meet the needs of our members.

Now we’re taking the next logical step by requiring COVID-19 vaccination for around 800 employees who regularly have in-person contact with BlueCross members, business partners and community members. We’re also requiring vaccination for our executive team, including all vice-presidents and above.

“By taking this important, potentially lifesaving step of getting vaccinated, our employees will be able to perform their roles under the most optimal conditions possible,” says JD Hickey, M.D., president & CEO of BlueCross.

“Likewise, there should be no doubt in someone’s mind – especially our members’ – that we’ve taken all available precautions to keep them safe and healthy.”

Once a COVID-19 vaccine has received full FDA approval, employees who work in direct contact with people we serve will have six weeks to get fully vaccinated and submit proof of their vaccination status. We’ll also grant limited medical and religious exemptions as needed.

We also believe it’s important for our leadership team to stand in solidarity with these employees, and to demonstrate our confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines.

“We know choosing to get vaccinated has been difficult for some people, but our decision to require vaccination for some employees wasn’t made lightly,” says Dr. Andrea D. Willis, SVP and chief medical officer. “As a doctor, I took an oath to protect the health of others. That includes recommending safe and effective ways to prevent serious health issues.”

Since the first COVID-19 vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization late last year, we’ve worked to educate our employees, members and communities on the value of getting vaccinated. Dr. Willis has regularly shared her insights on the vaccines in media interviews, virtual events and in filmed public service announcements on BlueCross social media channels.

Dr. Willis has also led efforts to educate our employees about COVID-19 precautions and the value of getting vaccinated. We’ve hosted livestreamed Q&A events with our clinical leaders to address employee concerns, offered incentives and even held on-site vaccination events.

  • As of Aug. 12, 59% of all BlueCross employees are fully vaccinated.
  • Among FlexOffice employees (office-based rather than remote), 70% are fully vaccinated.

But as the more contagious Delta variant continues to spread throughout Tennessee, it became clear this step would help us do more to protect the health of our employees and members.

“This pandemic has taken us all on a long, emotional journey, but sadly it’s not over yet,” Dr. Willis says.

“Despite a concerted effort by some people to raise doubts about the vaccines, the consensus among the medical community at large is COVID-19 vaccines are safe and saving lives. So we urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as you can. We all need to take this step for our own protection and for the protection of those in our community.”

About John Hawbaker, Public Affairs Manager

A photo of the authorJohn joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2010, serving as a communications specialist and content strategist before taking on his current role. He has called the Chattanooga area home since 2003 and has more than a decade’s experience in marketing and communications.

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