SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — To help protect its patients, workforce and communities from the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant, Sutter Health today announced a new policy requiring its workforce to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30th.

“Our integrated network has a shared commitment to protecting the health and safety of our patients and the communities we serve,” said Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “I am grateful the majority of our workforce and allied physicians have already demonstrated their leadership and their confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines by getting fully vaccinated.”

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Sutter joins a growing number of health organizations across the country who are requiring employees to get vaccinated to help protect against the virus. The new policy at Sutter comes as the highly infectious delta variant is rapidly increasing the number of COVID-19 cases among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

“Our rigorous COVID-19 infection prevention protocols have so far helped protect the health and safety of our patients and our workforce,” said Dr. William Isenberg, Sutter Health’s chief quality and safety officer. “However, these measures alone are not enough against the increasing threat of highly infectious variants like delta.”

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“The only way to get ahead of this virus once and for all is for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dr. Isenberg continued. “The unfortunate reality is that the delta variant is driving a surge in hospitalizations throughout our network and around the country, mostly among unvaccinated people.”

According to the CDC, all COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States are effective against COVID-19, and help prevent serious outcomes including severe disease, hospitalization and death.

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Sutter’s policy states all workforce members—including volunteers and vendors—coming onsite to a Sutter facility or providing patient care elsewhere need to be fully vaccinated with documentation on file. Those who remain unvaccinated must receive an approved accommodation for a valid medical contraindication or religious exemption.