Southcoast Health will require all employees and providers in its healthcare system to be vaccinated against COVID as soon as the FDA fully approves at least one of the vaccines.

Southcoast CEO Keith Hovan announced the move in a July 14 letter to employees that was shared with WBSM's Barry Richard.

Currently, all three COVID vaccines available in the U.S. have only been granted emergency use authorization by the FDA.

The healthcare provider joins many others across the country that are requiring employees to get the shot if they haven't already.

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Southcoast operates major hospitals in Fall River, New Bedford, and Wareham as well as multiple clinics and offices in the region.

"More details will be forthcoming, and, as with our flu vaccine requirement implemented in recent years, documented medical and religious exemptions may be granted after review," Hovan wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Southcoast staffers.

He added that employees who are pregnant or hope to become so can also request an exemption.

Booster shots are not currently under discussion, according to the letter — although Hovan noted that they may become a requirement in the future.

"Thank you once again for all you have endured as guardians of our community, and for standing with the Southcoast family in our goal to conquer COVID-19 once and for all," he concluded.

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