ST. LOUIS — Nearly all employees at St. Louis' largest employer have complied with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
BJC HealthCare reported Thursday that a little more than 99% of employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
"We know this is great news for our team members and the patients and communities we serve," the health care company wrote in an email Thursday afternoon.
BJC HealthCare announced in June that all employees would be required to have at least their first dose by Sept. 15. Those who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 could face suspension and eventual termination.
Workers who missed the deadline will be suspended for up to 30 days, according to a BJC spokesperson. After the suspension period, employees who are not vaccinated will be terminated.
BJC HealthCare has 31,000 employees. As of Wednesday, a "few hundred" hadn't complied with the mandate, the spokesperson said. After the end of the suspension period, the hospital will have a clearer picture of how many employees were terminated or left as a result of the mandate.
Religious and medical exemptions are allowed.
Health care systems were among the first employers in the St. Louis area to mandate vaccines. Mercy employees must be vaccinated by Sept. 30.
St. Luke's also requires vaccines for its employees; hospital visitors and guests must either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Other employers are following suit after President Joe Biden announced last week the federal government will mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require employees to be vaccinated or test for COVID-19 weekly.
Tuesday night, the St. Louis County council approved a mandate that would require either vaccination or regular COVID-19 testing for its employees. St. Louis County Executive Page is expected to sign the bill Wednesday.
However, the mandates have not been well-received by some lawmakers. Missouri Gov. Parson said he opposes such a mandate and is considering calling a special legislative session to challenge the federal plan.
"This heavy-handed action by the federal government is unwelcome in our state and has potentially dangerous consequences for working families," Parson posted on Twitter.