SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The COVID-19 vaccine will be required by Sanford Health employees by Nov. 1. 

In a news release on Thursday, Sanford Health said all employees with Sanford and the Good Samaritan Society will be required to get vaccinated to “ensure the safest possible environment for patients, residents and staff during the pandemic.” 

“This is the right thing to do for our patients and residents, people and communities,” Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health, said in a news release. “As more contagious COVID-19 variants continue to spread and threaten our communities, we must do everything we can to protect each other and our loved ones.”

Sanford says more than 90% of clinicians and 70% of nurses are already fully vaccinated. 

Sanford says employees are already required to have several other vaccines including the annual flu shot. Under the new policy, any COVID-19 vaccine received in the past 12 months will qualify for the 2021 requirement.

Sanford’s announcement follows the American Hospital Association which supported hospitals and health systems implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies for health care workers.

KELOLAND News reached out to Avera and Monumental Health about vaccine policies.

Avera sent KELOLAND News this statement: “COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be safe and effective in protecting our patients, our employees and our communities against this virus. Avera advocates that having a high percentage of vaccinated individuals is the only path out of the pandemic – and how we can prevent future increases in cases. 

At this time, Avera is evaluating the topic of requiring vaccines for employees. We are grateful for those who have received their vaccinations – and continue to encourage all others who are eligible to get vaccinated.”

Monument Health sent KELOLAND News this statement: “We realize that some hospitals are already requiring caregivers to be vaccinated, but we have not made a decision at this time. This decision will be led by physician leadership. We’ll also consult with our partners in the Mayo Clinic Care Network and other experts.”

KELOLAND News will have more coverage of Sanford’s COVID-19 vaccine announcement online and on-air.