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Summa Health to require COVID-19 vaccine for all employees by Oct. 31

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Posted at 3:10 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 15:15:31-04

AKRON, Ohio — Summa Health will require all employees to be fully vaccinated by fall, Summa CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny confirmed to News 5 Thursday.

All employees, vendors and volunteers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. Failure to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will result in discipline.

According to News 5 media partner at the Akron Beacon Journal, hospital officials said earlier this week they were evaluating any future policies around a vaccine mandate.

According to Deveny, 70% of Summa's employees are vaccinated.

"The safety of our patients, families and communities — as well as our own — is at stake due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a population health management organization, we have a moral obligation to protect our patients, guests, ourselves and the community as a whole. As healthcare professionals, we care for, interact and come in contact with those at greatest risk of infection and complications," said the memo, which was sent to staff Thursday morning.

"Because of highly contagious variants, including the Delta variant, and significant numbers of unvaccinated people, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are once again rising throughout the United States and our region. The scientific evidence is clear: vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic behind us and avoid the return of stringent public health measures," the memo continued.

In the memo, Deveny and other hospital leaders recognized that some employees are not able to get the vaccine "because of identified medical exemptions, medical deferments or religious accommodations and should be exempted or deferred from receiving the vaccine."

According to the memo, those employees were told to review the health system's exemption/deferral policy.

News 5 Cleveland reached out to other local hospitals including MetroHealth Medical Center and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center to confirm if their hospital staff would be required to get the vaccine.

Here are their responses:

MetroHealth Medical Center:

"We have strongly encouraged our employees to get vaccinated and are pleased that the vast majority have done so. Caregivers interacting with patients are required to wear PPE. We continue to carefully monitor the incidence of COVID-19 and vaccination rates among our employees and in our community. We are reviewing the updated guidance and recommendations and hope to make a determination soon."

University Hospitals:

"Right now, COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged but not mandatory for University Hospitals employees. Caregivers who choose not to receive the vaccine are required to wear the PPE appropriate to their work environment and continue to practice hygiene recommendations and physical distancing. These current practices continue to be effective for the protection of employees and patients throughout the pandemic. 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. We are awaiting the pending FDA decision regarding full approval of the vaccine beyond its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status and reviewing updated guidance and recommendations. We hope to make a determination soon."

News 5 has also reached out to the Cleveland Clinic but hasn't received a response yet.

Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.

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