116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Mercy Medical Center is now requiring its staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Cedar Rapids hospital has joined other health care entities in mandating employees must be inoculated as new infections have surged in recent weeks and vaccination rates have continued to lag.
All employees and volunteers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 15, officials announced on Friday.
"Our patients expect to be safe when they come to Mercy and we need to do everything we can to protect them,“ officials said in a news release. ”Additionally, we want and need our staff members to be healthy so they can continue to care for our community.“
Approximately 80 percent of all employees have been fully vaccinated as of this week, Mercy officials say.
However, the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant has prompted the hospital, and many other health care entities, to increase safety measures within their facilities. The next step in that process is implementing a mandated COVID-19 vaccine, officials told The Gazette.
“Achieving a higher vaccination rate among our caregivers is necessary to reduce risk even further, and the Food and Drug Administration’s recent full approval of the Pfizer vaccine has provided additional confidence for Mercy to move forward,” Mercy officials said in a statement.
The Cedar Rapids hospital already requires other vaccines for its staff, including the flu shot as well as vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, and varicella, officials said.
COVID-19 vaccines have been available to health care staff in Iowa since December.
According to coronavirus data from this past week, about 49 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
New cases across the state and across the United States have surged as a result of the new delta variant. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all but one county in Iowa is experiencing a high level of community transmission of the virus as of this past week.
The number of hospitalizations in Iowa also has been on the rise in recent weeks, reaching totals not seen since January, Gazette analysis of state coronavirus data shows.
CDC data shows 99.5 percent of hospital deaths from COVID-19 in the country are among unvaccinated individuals. On addition, those who are not fully vaccinated pose a higher risk of transmitting the virus to others.
Mercy has joined a number of other health care organizations in Iowa mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for its staff as the delta has emerged as the dominant variant.
All 33,000 employees at UnityPoint Health -- regardless of whether they involved with direct patient care -- are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1, health system officials announced earlier this month.
Employees who choose not to be vaccinated will be subject to voluntary resignation or termination, UnityPoint Health officials said. However, exceptions are available for medical or religious reasons, and a temporary deferral will be available to pregnant employees.
The West Des Moines-based health system operates St. Luke’s Medical Center in Cedar Rapids and other facilities across Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Staff at all MercyOne facilities across Iowa are required to obtain shots by Nov. 1 at the latest, officials said. The West Des Moines-based Catholic health system employees nearly 20,000 employees across its regions.
In addition, staff at the VA Health Care System in Iowa City must be vaccinated as part of a directive from the Biden administration affecting facilities nationwide.
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