SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Beacon Health System employees earn green “19” pins and have the right to go maskless in some facility areas, if they upload proof of Covid vaccination, according to an internal communication from early June.
While Beacon has not yet officially mandated the coronavirus vaccine for its workers, there are plans to do so, according a source familiar with the matter.
Indiana has a “no vaccine passport” law, but it is limited. The law says that only the state government and localities cannot issue or require a vaccine passport that allows special access for the vaccinated only.
In early May, St. Joseph County Commissioners signed on to a no vaccine passport resolution, saying that passports would harm patient privacy and that “widespread adoption of so-called Covid-19 passports by businesses on an allegedly voluntary basis will unduly and unnecessarily restrict the freedom of Americans.”
In its June 2 communication, Beacon said approximately 1300 associates had provided proof of vaccination, and that “Employee Health continues to receive about 50 to 100 new records every day.” According to its web site, South Bend-based Beacon is a locally-owned, not-for-profit health system that has 7,000 associates in its network.
If Beacon mandates the Covid vaccine, it is not clear how it will react to employees who use Indiana’s exemption statute for health facility employees. The statute provides several broad exemptions from vaccine mandates.
According to Indiana state law, a health facility cannot require the employee to receive a vaccine if it is medically contraindicated for the employee; if the vaccine is against the employee’s religious beliefs; or if the employee refuses to permit the immunization after being fully informed of the health risks.
In its memo, Beacon said no fully-vaccinated employees had been hospitalized for Covid. The report did not say whether any vaccinated employees contracted the virus.
Beacon Health System includes multiple hospitals in Indiana, including Beacon Children’s Hospital, Beacon Granger Hospital, Community Hospital of Bremen, Elkhart General Hospital, Epworth Hospital and Memorial Hospital of South Bend.
You can view the memo in its entirety below: