(Sioux Falls, SD) -- Sanford Health says it will require all employees to get a Coronavirus vaccination by November 1. In a statement, the health care provider says this includes employees at all of its Good Samaritan Society locations.

“This is the right thing to do for our patients and residents, people and communities,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “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.”

“Since the emergence of COVID-19, Sanford Health has led the way through every stage of the pandemic, and we should be proud of how we’ve come together to safely care for our communities and each other,” said Jeremy Cauwels, M.D., chief physician at Sanford Health. “Nearly all new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people, and the overwhelming data confirms that the vaccines are not only safe, but the best and most reliable way to prevent transmission of the virus.”

Across Sanford Health, health care providers have been leading by example by choosing to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. More than 90% of clinicians and 70% of nurses are fully vaccinated.

Sanford Health 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. Unvaccinated employees can get their COVID-19 vaccination at any time but must report it by Nov. 1. All unvaccinated employees are encouraged to get their shots as soon as possible. As with other vaccines, Sanford Health will allow certain exemptions for medical or religious reasons.