116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The deadline for Mercy Medical Center staff to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine policy arrived on Monday.
Approximately 98.1 percent of all employees have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus — or have received a medical or religious exemption — as of this week, officials with the Cedar Rapids hospital said.
On Sept. 3, the day hospital leaders announced the mandate, approximately 80 percent of staff were fully vaccinated.
However, the hospital would not state the number of additional employees who were fully vaccinated following the new hospital policy.
Mercy Medical officials also declined to share the number of employees who were granted an exemption, but stated “a small percentage” requested and received a waiver from the requirement for medical and religious reasons.
Employees who have not received the vaccine or have been approved for an exemption have been placed on unpaid leave. Officials will continue to encourage those individuals to get vaccinated, said Mercy Medical spokeswoman Karen Vander Sanden said.
"As we have stated from the beginning, our patients expect to be safe when they come to Mercy, and we need to do everything we can to protect them,“ Vander Sanden said in a statement to The Gazette.
”Additionally, we want and need our staff members to be healthy so they can continue to care for our community. Receiving the vaccine is the single most important step we can all take to protect ourselves and each other from COVID-19,“ according to the statement.
Officials pointed out the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is in line with other vaccination policies, including the requirement that hospital staff receive a flu shot and vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, and varicella.
Since Mercy announced the policy in early September, officials have offered staff “a number of opportunities” to ask questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, including through forums and individual conversations, Vander Sanden said.
The hospital was among a number of health care systems statewide that implemented a COVID-19 vaccine policy as the highly contagious delta variant became the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States.
Vaccination mandate deadlines arrived for other local hospitals in recent weeks, including MercyOne staff, whose employees had until Nov. 12 to get the shots or request as exemption. Officials said approximately 99 percent of all staff now are compliant with their policy.
West Des Moines-based health system UnityPoint Health also had mandated all 3,000 employees be vaccinated or request accommodation by Nov. 1. About 97 percent of all staff across the health system were compliant with the policy as of the deadline, officials said.
The UnityPoint Health mandate also applied to its Cedar Rapids hospital, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s. As of Nov. 2, approximately 99.5 percent of hospital staff were fully vaccinated or approved for an exemption, according to officials.
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