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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Mercy will require all current and future employees to be fully vaccinated. The hospital has set Thursday, September 30, 2021, for the complete vaccination date for employees.

Mercy has updated this requirement as the Delta variant continues to spread rapidly across the region. Mercy hospital and clinics have branches in Joplin, Springfield, St. Louis, and other locations. Mercy serves communities in Arkansas and Oklahoma where the number of Delta variant cases are increasing.

“What we are seeing aligns with the Associated Press analysis of CDC data,” said Dr. John Mohart, Mercy’s senior vice president of clinical services. “More than 95% of recent hospitalizations across the U.S. are people who aren’t vaccinated. The data is clear. Vaccination is key to saving lives.”

In Springfield, there are 120 COVID-19 positive patients. There are 27 patients in the ICU: 23 of those patients are on a ventilator, and three deaths in the last 24 hours.

“This is really to protect our co-workers, it’s an investment in our co-workers, an investment in our patients to ensure we are providing the very best protection,” said Brent Hubbard, the CEO of Mercy. “As a healthcare provider, we should expect that of ourselves.”

Across the Mercy network, there are 40,000 employees. The Mercy staff with vaccination is at 75%, and 25% are not vaccinated.

“It is essential that we take these steps in order to protect the health of our co-workers and our patients at Mercy,” said Dr. William Sistrunk, Mercy infectious disease specialist. “As health care leaders in our communities, it is important we set the standard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination is our best defense against the virus and already has provided many of our co-workers with the protection they need to care for our patients. Our goal is to ensure the safest possible work environment for our co-workers and patients while also being a part of the effort to stop the spread of the virus in the communities we serve.”

Hubbard said there will be exceptions for people with medical and religious reasons, but those who otherwise refuse could face termination by October.

“It’s very similar to our flu vaccination policy,” said Hubbard.

Doctor Sistrunk said it’s rare to have a fully vaccinated patient, but their health seems to be better when someone is completely vaccinated.

“We’re seeing generally those patients have a milder illness, generally they have not required ICU stays, and have been able to go home quicker,” said Sistrunk.

You can watch the press briefing below.

CoxHealth responded to the Mercy announcement Wednesday saying at this time they will not be requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

“COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly efficacious and safe, can save lives, and end this pandemic. We strongly advocate for their use. However, we understand that many in our community are hesitant to become vaccinated, including some employees.”

Paula F. Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer, responds to the announcements early today saying Freeman is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in their facilities and the community, but currently will not issue a policy mandating the vaccine for employees.