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Easterseals Arkansas to require vaccine for employees, volunteers

Easterseals Arkansas announced Thursday it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees and volunteers by the end of September.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Easterseals Arkansas announced Thursday it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees and volunteers by Sept. 30, 2021.

As the delta variant spreads across the state causing a spike in positive cases and Arkansas reporting its first two child deaths from the virus, Easterseals Arkansas said the decision "is in line with our mission to serve individuals with disabilities and their families."

“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,” CEO Ron Ekstrand said in a statement. 

According to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, data from the Arkansas Department of Health states that 98.3% of those hospitalized since January were not vaccinated.

Easterseals Arkansas also referenced a report by Arkansas Public Health Pandemic Working Group that stated, "COVID-19 is not over in Arkansas. It is, at best, smoldering. COVID is no longer smoldering. It has broken out into a raging forest fire that will grow in size and strength."

Ekstrand asked other Arkansas employers to follow the decision and "stand against the virus."

The vaccine is widely available in Arkansas and everyone over the age of 12 is eligible. The COVID-19 vaccine is completely free to anyone, even if you don't have healthcare.