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St. Louis' largest employer to require COVID-19 vaccinations

The deadline is in advance of the annual influenza and respiratory illness season

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis' largest employer will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 15.

In a press release, BJC HealthCare announced that every employee will be required to have their COVID-19 vaccination by Sept. 15, continuing a long-standing practice on vaccinations. The deadline is in advance of the annual influenza and respiratory illness season. Exemptions could be granted for medical or religious reasons.

"As the traditional season for respiratory viral illness, the fall will bring a high risk for resurgence of COVID-19," the release said. "With full vaccination of staff, BJC plans to be as prepared as possible when many viral illnesses with similar symptoms will be circulating."

BJC said nearly 75% of its employees are currently vaccinated, and they are focusing on bringing that number to 100%.

"We are now focused on ensuring the 25% of our employees who have not yet been vaccinated have access to factual information and can easily obtain the vaccine in advance of the fall respiratory illness season,” BJC President and CEO Rich Liekweg said.

According to its website, more than 30,000 people are employed by BJC.

Washington University, which is affiliated with multiple BJC facilities, also announced that all of its faculty, staff and trainees would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

RELATED: Washington University to require COVID-19 vaccination for faculty, staff, trainees for 2021

"With the aim of protecting our community and the patients we serve, and returning to full in-person teaching, learning research and campus life in the fall, we will require all Washington University faculty, staff and trainees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," a letter from the university's chancellor said Tuesday.

The letter said the decision was made after consulting with federal and regional health agencies and the university's own health experts. The letter said the updated CDC guidelines for universities played a role.