Cleveland-area hospitals react to new sweeping vaccine mandates for health care workers

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland-area hospitals are reacting after President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that about 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will have to be fully vaccinated.

In a statement to FOX 8, University Hospitals says:

As we’ve maintained, we believe that the vaccines are safe, effective and recommended. We believe in the science because we participated in developing the vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. Until we have a chance to review the rules the president referenced in his address this evening, we can’t comment on the specific requirements, but believe that getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways people can protect themselves, the people they care about, and their communities from COVID-19.

The Cleveland Clinic also made a statement to FOX 8, saying:

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and are the best way to protect individuals from severe illness or death from the virus. We are awaiting more information and plan to comply with federal requirements. Nearly 80% of our caregivers have already received their COVID-19 vaccine.  

The Ohio Nurses Association said in part:

In order to build trust and ensure safety in the workplace, vaccines must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced… Healthcare professionals are concerned that mandating vaccines without negotiations will only result in more people leaving the bedside at a time when staffing levels are already low following the trauma of the past year.

“We’re aware of President Biden’s executive order requiring that health care workers at facilities funded by CMS be vaccinated,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital. “We just announced our vaccine and testing requirement with a Nov. 1 deadline. We look forward to learning more details, so we can ensure we’re compliant with the executive order.”

“Currently, 74% of Summa Health employees are vaccinated. Since updating our vaccination policy to include the COVID vaccine as a condition of employment, we have seen an increase in the number of employees who have either completed or started the process of becoming vaccinated,” said Mike Bernstein, system director of corporate communications and public relations at Summa Health.

The Ohio State Medical Association released the following statement:

Rules have yet to be drafted with respect to the requirement related to employers with over 100 employees and healthcare facilities that receive Medicare/Medicaid payments. We anticipate draft rules from CMS and OSHA coming in October and will be able to comment on the specific requirements then. 

This new federal mandate will impact as many as 100 million Americans since not only will healthcare workers be required to get the shot but also all employers with 100+ employees must either mandate vaccines or test weekly.

It also requires these companies to give employees paid time off when they get the vaccine.

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