Centra to require COVID-19 vaccination all of its 7,600 employees

Centra Health will now require COVID-19 vaccines for all caregivers in Lynchburg.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – All 7,600 employees within the Centra health system will be required to get vaccinated.

According to the release sent out by Centra on Monday, all staff will need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1 and first doses will need to be administered on Oct. 1.

View Monday’s full news conference below:

All employees will need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1 and first doses will need to be administered on Oct. 1.

Centra will allow for both religious and medical exemptions to this requirement.

Those not vaccinated by Nov. 1 will be placed on a two-week suspension. If they do not comply, it will end in termination of employment.

“As a regional healthcare provider, it is our responsibility to take a stand and do our part to protect those who place their trust in us, said Richard Tugman, interim Central president and Central Executive Officer. “We feel a deep commitment to setting the example.”

Officials said Lynchburg and the surrounding area have the second-lowest vaccination rate in Virginia at the moment, and increasing rates of coronavirus are typically linked to areas with low vaccination rates.

“The region’s vaccination rate is hovering around 35.6%, which is well below the target rate of 70% to combat COVID-19 effectively. As the largest employer in this geographic area, Centra’s vaccination rates greatly impact the ability to limit community spread,” read the press release in part.

Centra officials said they came to the decision after careful consideration and input from diverse and representative groups across the organization as well as national, regional and state healthcare officials.

“We recognize the profound truth that getting vaccinated is the single most effective tool in slowing and even stopping the spread of this virus,” said Chris Lewis, M.D., Centra’s senior vice president and chief clinical officer. “By taking this step, we are further protecting the health of our Caregivers, patients and community.”