© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health & Science
WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Cleveland VA Medical Center Staff Must Get COVID-19 Vaccine

a photo of the Cleveland VA Medical Center
Flickr
Cleveland VA doctors and nurses must be vaccinated within 8 weeks now that the federal agency is mandating the shot for frontline staff.

Doctors and other medical staff at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center are being required by the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs to get the COVID-19 vaccine, making them the first medical professionals in Northeast Ohio required to be vaccinated.

The VA announced the requirement Monday for health care personnel who provide direct care.

All of the Northeast Ohio facilities are included in the vaccine mandate, including the main facility on East Boulevard and all outpatient clinics, said Kristen Parker, chief of communications at the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System.  

The Northeast Ohio VA has more than 5,490 employees across a 21-county area, Parker said. Those required by the order to be vaccinated include physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors.

Employees will have eight weeks to become fully vaccinated.

The VA is the first federal agency to impose a vaccine mandate, and the news comes after more than 50 medical associations on Monday recommended vaccine requirements for health care workers.

In a statement, the VA said four unvaccinated employees recently died after contracting COVID-19. A more contagious mutation of the virus, called the delta variant, is causing infection rates to spike.

None of the other Cleveland-area hospital systems, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, and University Hospitals, have plans to mandate vaccinations at this time. Instead, they are focusing on encouraging employees to get the shot.

At this time, MetroHealth has nearly 80% of its employees and staff vaccinated, said spokesperson Dorsena Drakeford.

Copyright 2021 WCPN. To see more, visit WCPN.