Prior to mandate, Allina Health designated vaccinated staff with ‘gray tags’

Prior to requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, Allina Health announced a plan to designate vaccinated staff members by giving them gray tags at work.

The Mother Baby Center at Allina Health Mercy Hospital (Allina Health/Facebook)

This week, Allina Health announced a vaccine requirement for all employees, including students, volunteers, and contracted staff members.

Employees must have at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 1, according to a press release from Allina Health. Influenza vaccines are also required for staff members during the flu season of 2021-2022, a policy that was not in place before this year.

“The timing of this decision [to require the COVID-19 vaccine] is informed by the growing concern of our clinicians and patients about the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases being driven by highly transmissible variants,” reads a press release.

“We are seeing case counts and hospitalizations increase. We know vaccination against the virus is our best path to end the pandemic,” the announcement continues.

Vice President John Misa said the vaccine mandate “sends an important signal to the community” that Allina Health “embraces safety.” He said the decision also ensures the company is taking all possible steps to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Limited exemptions” to both vaccines will be accepted, under medical or religious reasons.

Prior to requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, Allina Health announced a plan to designate vaccinated staff members by giving them gray tags at work.

According to communication dated June 28, those who wore gray tags — indicating a completed vaccine series — were allowed to take off their masks during meetings and in break rooms and were not required to follow social distancing guidelines. This was permitted only if everyone in the room wore a gray tag.

Photos of June 28 announcement from Allina Health (photos given to Alpha news)

“Leaders will round on staff to ensure compliance,” the gray tag guidance concludes.

Now, with the vaccine required by October 1, it’s unclear whether the gray tag method will continue to be implemented.

M Health Fairview will also be requiring staff members to be vaccinated, and several universities announced this week that students and staff must have the vaccine before classes begin.

Alpha News reached out to Allina Health for comment but did not receive a response.