Ochsner Announces Employee Vaccination Mandate
NEW ORLEANS – In the wake of full FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Ochsner Health announced that it will require all of its physicians, providers and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29. An Ochsner spokesperson said the mandate is necessary because the Gulf South region continues to face high COVID-19 positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths. At the time of the announcement, Ochsner was caring for 979 COVID-19 patients. More than 88% are unvaccinated.
“Healthcare workers have experienced unbelievable challenges and sacrificed so much over the last 18 months to keep our patients and community safe. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and more than that, we owe them meaningful action,” said Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health, in a release. “This policy is the right thing to do to protect our employees, their families and our patients.”
According to stats provided by Ochsner, Louisiana currently ranks 46th in the country for vaccinations, with only 39% of Louisiana residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Approximately 69% of Ochsner Health employees are vaccinated.
“Ochsner cares for physically vulnerable people, and we have an ethical obligation to protect them from COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Hart, Ochsner’s chief medical officer. “As we are in the midst of another surge due to the Delta variant, we need to stop this virus in its tracks. Vaccination is the only way, and as healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to lead by example, while protecting our employees and our patients from the spread of this highly contagious Delta variant.”
The American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association are two of nearly 60 major medical organizations that have called on healthcare professionals to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ochsner said the vaccination mandate includes all leaders, physicians, employees and new hires and applies to clinical and corporate full-time and part-time workers at Ochsner-owned facilities. In addition to employees, all vendors, medical and allied health students, contract employees, PRN, agency nurses and volunteers will also be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination before rounding or working at an Ochsner Health campus.