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The country’s largest independent living operator, Winter Park, FL-based Holiday Retirement, is requiring its more than 6,300 employees to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 4, the company announced Tuesday.

The move comes one day after full approval of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration.

The policy, effective wherever permitted under state law — Holiday has 240 communities in 43 states — will affect all employees who are working in and traveling to Holiday’s communities, as well as new residents. The company already had been requiring new employees to be vaccinated as of July 15 and had been encouraging workers and residents to get vaccinated since early this year, when vaccines first became available to those living and working in independent living, according to Holiday Retirement CEO Lilly Donohue.

Lilly Donohue
Lilly Donohue

“Making this decision now will help us more quickly achieve our goal of essentially completely vaccinated communities for the protection of our residents, staff, vendors and the public at large,” she said in a statement.

The company, No. 1 on Argentum’s 2021 list of largest independent living providers based on data current as of Dec. 31, was acquired by Louisville, KY-based Atria Senior Living this quarter but will continue to operate separately.

Atria announced a vaccine mandate in January and has attained a roughly 99% vaccination rate among staff members, up from about 98% in early May.

“We’re proud of Lilly and her team for making this choice,” Atria Chairman and CEO John Moore said in a statement. “We’ve said all along that our residents deserve to live in a vaccinated environment, and our staff deserves to work in a vaccinated environment. We are unwavering in our determination to get each community in the Atria portfolio fully vaccinated.”