Thousands of Georgia Hospital Workers Face COVID-19 Vaccination Deadline

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Friday was a day some healthcare workers in Georgia looked forward to and dreaded by others.

October 1, 2021 was the deadline for healthcare workers in about half of the Atlanta metro area hospital systems to prove they had been vaccinated against COVID-19, or were at risk of losing their jobs.

Healthcare workers at Wellstar Health System protested earlier this summer after hospitals in Georgia began announcing they would force employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be made redundant.

But, the Oct. 1 deadline for showing proof of vaccination has passed quite inconspicuously at several hospitals in the metro Atlanta area.

Public health microbiologist Amber Schmidtke, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Saint Mar, says vaccination mandates for healthcare workers make sense to her.

“Because in the end, the first rule is do no harm,” says Schmidtke. “And, if at the end of the day we accidentally bring disease into this environment where patients are vulnerable, it can be incredibly disturbing and tragic, really, that we inadvertently cause harm to patients.”

Piedmont Healthcare, the first Metro Atlanta healthcare system to announce it will require vaccinations earlier this year, told FOX 5 that the number of full-time employees who are not fully vaccinated was ” minimal ”and would have no impact on their daily operations.

Friday was also the vaccine deadline for employees of WellStar Health System and Emory Healthcare. Floyd Medical Center in Rome has set a deadline of Oct. 31 to complete the vaccination or present a medical or religious exemption.

October 1 was also a deadline for Grady’s doctors, management staff and salespeople to prove they were fully immunized.

Health care workers can apply for a medical or religious exemption.

Most health systems already require proof of other vaccinations against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), chickenpox and influenza.

The warrants come into effect the day after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Director Dr Kathleen Toomey warn Georgia could face another surge this winter.

Amber Schmidtke, who writes an online newsletter on the Georgia pandemic, says the state could be affected by both COVID-19 and seasonal flu.

“We have seen what happens when our hospitals are overwhelmed with outbreaks of COVID,” Schmidtke said. “And, the last thing we need is healthcare workers to get sick with preventable disease.”

About 47% of Georgians are fully vaccinated and 54% have received a dose of the vaccine.

Piedmont Health Care Declaration:

“Friday October 1, 2021 will mark the deadline for all staff in Piedmont to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is in line with our already existing policy of requiring proof of other vaccinations such as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Chickenpox for new employees and requiring the annual flu shot for all current employees. the appropriate information.

“The number of full-time employees who will not be fully immunized by the deadline was minimal and therefore there was no impact on our operations. At Piedmont, we hold ourselves to the highest standards and are committed to doing everything possible to ensure a safe and quality experience for our employees and the communities we serve, which in this case meant imposing the requirement that our staff are vaccinated against COVID-19. “

Wellstar Health System:

“There is a great deal of clinical and scientific evidence that has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines currently available are safe and extremely effective in preventing serious illnesses caused by COVID-19. Vaccination is the best protection available against the virus.

“To protect team members, patients and communities, Wellstar Health System requires that all team members be immunized by October 1. This decision is consistent with that of other major healthcare systems in Metro Atlanta and across the country.

“We remain focused on delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to each of our valued team members as the October 1 deadline approaches.”

St. Mary’s Health Care System and Trinity Health Statementt:

“St. Mary’s health care system and Trinity Health take safety seriously; in fact, it is one of our core values. This is why Trinity Health was the first major national health system to require vaccination against COVID-19 for all its colleagues and clinicians.

“The majority of Trinity Health’s 117,000 colleagues were already vaccinated before our requirement was announced. We are grateful for the support most of our staff has shown.

“We asked our managers to lead by example and over 99% of our colleagues in leadership positions met the requirement. More specifically, less than 5 of our 5,000 managers nationwide have chosen to leave the organization.

“We know that approximately 95% of our non-management staff nationally and in St. Mary’s have also acted to meet the requirement. We are still dealing with documentation and working on our process with colleagues. Once we have the final numbers, we’ll share.

“We are providing our colleagues with every opportunity to meet the requirement, including education and support for colleagues who have not yet submitted information on their immunization status.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective tool to slow, if not stop, the spread of this deadly virus and will prevent the emergence of new variants. As healthcare professionals, it is the right thing to do to protect ourselves as well as our patients, families and communities – especially the most vulnerable. “

Emory statement on healthcare:

“Emory Healthcare continues to help members of its healthcare team successfully meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements by October 1, 2021. We believe our decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations for our staff is the right and best decision from a public health perspective and our best defense against the virus to protect our patients, staff, physicians and community. “

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