COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths had been plunging across the U.S. and in Iowa since January, when rollout of the vaccines first started to pick up steam. But since June, all those numbers have been surging again as 39% of the eligible U.S. population (12 years and older) and nearly half of the overall population remains unvaccinated, according to federal data, helping to enable the virus’ more transmissible Delta variant to spread.
Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in July said COVID-19 has become “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” And Kelly Garcia, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, in April said the campaign to get Iowans and Americans vaccinated is a “literal race” against the virus’ variants.
At least five national health care organizations — including the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics — have formally advocated for requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated.
Walgreen’s, with 72 locations in Iowa, also is requiring all workers based in support offices to be fully vaccinated by September 30. Any worker who is “unable to be vaccinated,” a company spokesman said, will be required to enroll in a COVID-19 testing program.
“As a company deeply committed to health and wellness, we have implemented a policy that requires all team members who are based in our U.S. Support Offices to be fully vaccinated by September 30 with any of the vaccines available,” Fraser Engerman, Walgreen’s senior director of external relations, said in an email to the bureau. “Our highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of our team members, as well as our customers and patients.”