Northern Arizona Healthcare has announced that all employees must be fully vaccinated by December 31st. NAH said in a press release Monday that “our decision, interestingly, has come right before President Biden’s announcement that staff within Medicare and Medicaid certified facilities, like NAH, will be required to be COVID-19 vaccinated. Although many may disagree with this action from the President, we can all agree that there is no higher priority than patient health and safety.” NAH CEO Flo Spyrow says “with new variants taking hold, causing rising COVID-19 numbers in our hospitals, locally and regionally, we know that our communities also cannot afford further strain on the existing staffing challenges faced by us locally, and by healthcare systems across the country.” She adds, “it’s time now to make sure they receive what they need to be as safe as possible not just as healthcare workers, but as members of their families, leaders in their communities and contributors overall.” An exemption process is available for NAH colleagues who have a medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that preclude them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. NAH officials say about 80-percent of NAH employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or intend to receive the vaccination. NAH operates Flagstaff Medical Center and Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood, as well as other facilities in Northern Arizona.