HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — One of Pennsylvania’s largest health systems said it will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Geisinger gave its nearly 24,000 employees until Oct. 15 to get the shot, citing rising numbers of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. It said about 70% are already fully vaccinated.

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“We understand that some employees who have consciously chosen to not get vaccinated may be disappointed by this decision. We hope they will understand that this is a necessary step to protect the health of our patients and their colleagues,” Dr. Jaewon Ryu, Geisinger’s president and CEO, said in a written statement.

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The Geisinger network includes nine hospitals, a medical school and provider practices throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Many other large health systems in Pennsylvania require employees to be vaccinated, including the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network. UPMC, the state’s largest health system, encourages but does not mandate that employees get the shot.

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