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    Spectrum Health workers can use natural immunity as vaccine mandate exemption


    Spectrum Health will grant temporary exemptions from its employee vaccine mandate to individuals who can prove they have naturally acquired immunity to COVID-19. 

    The west Michigan hospital system, which is in the process of merging with Southfield-based Beaumont Health, will grant an exemption to those who have a positive PCR or antigen test for COVID-19 plus a positive antibody test from within the past three months, the health system said in a statement Thursday.

    The exemption, the first for a major health system in Michigan, was developed “as new research has emerged” on natural immunity.

    “While we still recommend vaccination for people with prior COVID-19 infection, according to this new research, there is increasing evidence that natural infection affords protection from COVID-19 reinfection and severe symptoms for a period of time,” the statement said. “Current studies are not clear on how long natural immunity protects from reinfection.”

    The policy could be updated if future evidence shows naturally acquired protection is waning or longer lasting, or if there is a validated antibody test result showing immunity, the statement said.

    Spectrum announced in late July that it would require the COVID-19 vaccine within eight weeks of the Food and Drug Administration approving a vaccine, but noted it would consider some exemptions.

    Those exemptions include religious exemptions and medical exemptions determined by a medical exemption committee. The hospital system’s medial exemption committee recommended the health system allow for a temporary exemption for naturally acquired immunity based on available research, the statement said. 

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