MetroHealth will require its employees, contractors and volunteers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations by Oct. 30, aligning with state and national associations that have urged hospitals in recent weeks to implement such requirements.
"Protecting caregivers against COVID-19 is the right thing to do," MetroHealth president and CEO Dr. Akram Boutros said in a provided statement. "Our profession has been hailed as heroic because we were there when there was no protection from this disease. We cared for people and put ourselves at risk. We don't have to do that anymore. We can and have to take care of our patients and ourselves."
The American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Hospital Association, Ohio Hospital Association and others have all recently urged hospitals to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a news release.
Summa Health notified employees earlier this month it would require them to get inoculated against COVID-19 by the fall.
The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have not implemented such a requirement.
"At this time, we are focusing on encouraging our caregivers to receive the vaccine, providing education and making vaccination as accessible as possible," Clinic spokeswoman Angie Smith wrote in an emailed statement.
For UH employees, COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory but strongly encouraged, and unvaccinated caregivers are required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and continue practicing hygiene recommendations and physical distancing, according to spokesman George Stamatis.
"These current practices continue to be effective for the protection of employees and patients throughout the pandemic," per a statement from UH. "We continue to carefully monitor the incidence of COVID-19 and vaccination rates among our employees and in our community to help guide any future changes to our vaccination policy."
More than 80% of MetroHealth's staff already is vaccinated, according to the release. The system already requires annual flu vaccinations as a condition of employment, as well as measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations.
Exceptions will be granted for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, as is the case for the flu vaccine, according to the release. All new and current MetroHealth employees must be fully vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption by Oct. 30. Also like with the flu vaccine, those who refuse will be subject to disciplinary actions including termination, according to the release.
"We stand united to keep our patients, staff, and community safe by giving the best protection possible against COVID-19," said Dr. Amy Ray, medical director of infection prevention for MetroHealth, in a provided statement. "Every employee in our organization deserves the greatest protection available so that every patient who crosses our doors can be assured of safety."