LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas charity has a new message for those looking to help them out – thanks, but get vaccinated first.
Easterseals Arkansas will be making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all employees and volunteers by September 30.
The announcement comes on the heels of Arkansas Children’s Hospital requiring all leadership and new hires to become vaccinated.
CEO CEO Ron Ekstrand explained that the group had been allowing staff to make their own call on getting a vaccine dose but that the recent spike in cases driven by the delta variant led the group to a stricter stance.
He added that the group has followed three criteria when making decisions on how it responded to COVID-19 concerns:
- What will keep the individuals we serve and our staff safe and healthy?
- What will keep programs open so our staff can have jobs?
- What will keep Easterseals Arkansas financially sustainable?
“We have been relying on our team to make their own decisions about receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. However, in the midst of this pandemic, that decision impacts too many others, including those we are here to serve and to support – many of whom are too young or too medically fragile to get the vaccine themselves,” Ekstrand said in a release. “If we use our three criteria, staff choosing not to get vaccinated negatively impacts all three of our criteria while staff who have voluntarily gotten vaccinated positively impacts them all.”
In a statement announcing the policy update, Easterseals Arkansas pointed to a recent report by the Arkansas Public Health Pandemic Working Group, which on Tuesday called the COVID-19 situation in the state “a raging forest fire that will grow in size and strength.”
While understanding there are still some hesitant to get vaccinated, Ekstrand still asked them to consider following this guidance and getting vaccinated as a way of supporting others.
“I invite other employers or organizations, including those who are hesitant to make this decision, to join us in taking this proactive stand against the virus,” he said.