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Mercy Iowa City Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines For Staff, Contractors

A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 15, in Foxborough, Mass. Setting up community vaccination centers will be a key to getting the vaccine to millions, an adviser to President Biden says.
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Mercy Iowa City became the latest hospital in the state to mandate its staff, providers and contractors get vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals with strongly held religious beliefs or medical issues will be required to apply for an exemption from the requirement.

Mercy Iowa City is the latest Iowa hospital to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its staff. The hospital announced Wednesday it will require all employees, providers, contractors, students and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID by Dec. 20.

In a written statement, Mercy Iowa City notes it has encouraged the use of vaccines ever since the Food & Drug Administration approved them for emergency use, emphasizing that the shots are “safe and effective in saving lives."

A vaccine mandate announced earlier this summer had applied to other hospitals in the Mercy network but not the Iowa City location.

In its announcement, the hospital notes its mandate comes after the FDA fully approved the Pfizer vaccine. The change also follows an announcement earlier this month that the Biden Administration will require all health facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs to mandate their workers get the vaccine.

In a statement, Mike Trachta, acting president and CEO of Mercy Iowa City, said the hospital has a responsibility to protect its staff and patients.

“As a community hospital, we have a responsibility to protect our community, and this begins with protecting our colleagues,” Trachta said in a statement. “Requiring colleagues to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will help protect our patients, many of whom are most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

According to state data, 78 percent of Iowans currently hospitalized for COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated. 90 percent of patients in Iowa ICUs for COVID are not fully vaccinated.

Similar trends have been borne out across the country as overwhelmingly unvaccinated patients push healthcare providers and facilities to the brink, suffering from what is now essentially a preventable disease.

Iowa’s coronavirus dashboard shows that as of Wednesday afternoon, 65 percent of Iowans age 18 and older have been fully vaccinated. The dashboard reports 6,401 Iowans have died of COVID.

Mercy Iowa City’s mandate comes as Iowa’s COVID case numbers continue to rise, with the seven day average of new cases surpassing the state’s most recent peak in January 2021, before vaccines were widely available to the public, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Mercy Iowa City’s vaccine requirement will apply to both the hospital and its clinics. The facility has 234 acute care beds and employs about 1,350 people. Individuals with “strongly held religious beliefs or medical reasons” will be required to apply for an exemption from the mandate.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter