MORGANTOWN — WVU Medicine and Mon Health System will require all employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Both systems sent The Dominion Post statements on Monday in response to an inquiry about their plans following a West Virginia Hospital Association announcement supporting mandatory vaccines for all hospital and health system employees.
WVU Medicine said it will require all employees to receive both doses of the two-dose Pfizer series by Oct. 31.
Its announcement acknowledged the WVHA statement and Monday’s FDA announcement of full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 16 and up.
The vaccine mandate applies to employees of all WVU Health System hospitals and clinics, including those in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and also applies to staff who are working remotely at home or onsite, WVUM said.
WVU Health System President and CEO Albert Wright said, “We’re doing this because it is the right thing to do. We are the state’s leading health care provider and largest employer, and we have a higher obligation to our patients as well as to each other. I want WVU Medicine hospitals and clinics to be as safe as possible for our patients and staff. A fully vaccinated workforce will help ensure that safety.”
Wright said they have to make sure they don’t encounter a situation where several hundred employees are off work with COVID. “The number of unvaccinated staff out due to COVID is increasing and is starting to have a material impact on our patient care mission. We also cannot have a two-tiered workforce with one that is vaccinated and one that is not. This places an unfair burden on our vaccinated staff, our patients, and public, all of whom expect us to be able to provide the services they need, when they need them.”
WVUM had already vaccinated more than 60% of its workforce, he said. “We know one thing for certain: The vaccine is extremely safe and effective.”
Mon Health opened its announcement by noting that WVUM, Charleston Area Medical Center and many hospitals across the state and nation will also mandate employee vaccines.
Mon Health has set its deadline at Nov. 1. It said there will be exceptions only for medical and religious reasons.
“With the Delta variant on the rise, the [FDA] approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the safety of our community,” Mon Health said.
Krystal Atkinson, Mon Health chief nursing executive, said, “We believe this is a necessary step in prioritizing team member and patient safety, which align with our core values.”
Mon Health said physicians, nurses, and hospitals’ clinical leaders are confident in both the science and safety behind the vaccine, with individual and community benefits strongly outweighing the minimal side effects. More vaccinations mean a lowered chance of transmission, especially for those who are vulnerable and unable to get vaccinated.
Hospital employee and staff vaccinations will maintain the long-term ability of the system to respond to the pandemic, to safely care for patients by protecting them from infection and to mitigate the impact of the virus within health care facilities and among patients, hospital personnel, and their families and friends, Mon Health said.
WV Hospital Association
WVHA said Monday, “West Virginia hospitals are committed to making the state’s hospitals safer for every patient, visitor, and staff member. … Accordingly, the WVHA supports hospitals and health systems that require COVID-19 vaccination of their employees, with local factors and circumstances shaping how and when their policies are implemented.”
It continued, “Hospital employee and staff vaccination against COVID-19 will maintain the long-term ability of our health care system to respond to the pandemic, to safely care for patients by protecting them from infection, and to mitigate the impact of the virus within health care facilities and among patients, hospital personnel, and their families and friends.”