OHIO — After the Ohio Hospital Association recommended members to implement a policy requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, central Ohio health systems announced Tuesday they are following suit.
By the end of the year, employees at OhioHealth, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children's Hospital must be fully vaccinated.
Some deadlines to get the vaccine are earlier than others. Nationwide Children's said all employees must get it before Oct. 1, where 75% of staff members are already vaccinated. At the Wexner Medical Center, where 72% of employees are vaccinated, the deadline is Oct. 15. OhioHealth has the latest deadline with Dec. 1. It's not known how much of OhioHealth's staff is vaccinated.
The Ohio Hospital Association, which represents more than 240 hospitals, said earlier Tuesday the recommendation came after concerns rose about the delta variant spreading.
"Hospital employee and staff vaccination against COVID-19 will help ensure the long-term ability of our health care system to respond to the pandemic and the continuation of vital health care services," said Mike Abrams, the association's CEO in a statement.
Mount Carmel was the first central Ohio hospital to mandate vaccines for staff in July, giving them until Aug. 24.
"Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mount Carmel has actively collaborated with central Ohio health systems to fight this virus. Today, we are proud to stand alongside our partners as they, too, have required the vaccine for their staff. We believe this is a crucial step in protecting our community," Mount Carmel wrote in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest map update shows 70 Ohio counties are now in the substantial and high levels for COVID-19 spread. The CDC recommends residents in these counties, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors and outdoors.
Ohio documented a spike in COVID-19 cases Tuesday, reporting 1,769 new cases which is more than double the 21-day average, according to state data. It's also the highest number of cases the state has seen in a single day since April.
The uptick in cases has also been accompanied by an increase in vaccinations. On July 30, more than 11,000 Ohioans got the first shot, which is the highest day-to-day number since early June. So far, 49.5% of residents have gotten the first shot and 46.2% of Ohio's population is completely vaccinated, according to state data.