Thursday, August 05, 2021
Cincinnati Children’s will require that all employees, students, contractors, badged vendors, and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1, 2021, CEO Michael Fisher said today.
“At this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that the best way to keep our patients, families, and employees safe is through vaccination and continuing to follow all of the proven safety precautions,” Fisher said. “Masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, daily self-screening by employees and staying home when sick are all part of the overarching strategy for us to stay safe.”
The medical center employs 16,600 people, making it the region’s largest hospital system and second-largest workforce. The hospital’s 1.38 million patient encounters in Fiscal Year 2020 benefited local children as well as kids from all 50 states and 51 countries, including those treated for complex or rare disorders. Many of those patients are too young to be eligible for COVID vaccination, Fisher noted.
Proof of vaccination will be required as a condition of employment at Cincinnati Children’s. Exemptions may be granted for approved medical contraindications or religious prohibitions.
“Safety is our foundational responsibility,” Fisher said. “This vaccination requirement highlights our commitment to our community to ensure there is minimal risk of acquiring COVID-19 from our employees – and provides further reassurance that it is safe for children and families to seek the inpatient, outpatient and preventative healthcare they need.”
In informing the medical center’s workforce today, Fisher noted that the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the Ohio Hospital Association recently advised healthcare employers to require that workers be vaccinated against COVID.
“Because of the highly contagious Delta variant and significant numbers of unvaccinated people — including children younger than 12 years old — COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are again rising throughout the nation and right here in our region,” Fisher said.
Cincinnati Children’s has helped lead the way in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines, most notably the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that is protecting and saving the lives of millions of people 12 or older — here and around the world.
Robert Frenck, MD, director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s and principal site investigator for the Pfizer trials, cited evidence that the COVID vaccine can prevent serious illness or death, including in cases attributed to the Delta variant.
“While we have seen infections in some people who have been vaccinated, their symptoms have been mild,” Frenck said. “And since January of this year, 97% of COVID-related hospitalizations and 99% of COVID-related deaths have occurred in people who have not received a vaccine.”
Cincinnati Children’s already requires vaccination against seasonal flu and other contagious diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella.
“Requiring COVID vaccinations for all of our healthcare providers and staff is the responsible thing to do — not only to protect our patients, their families and our workforce but also our community,” Fisher said. “We have a unique responsibility to care for kids, especially those who aren’t yet eligible for vaccination.”
For more information about COVID and vaccines, visit the Vaccine Resources section of our website.
Barrett J. Brunsman