OHIO — A nursing union wants to negotiate a new employee COVID-19 vaccination mandate at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, which was announced last week. 

The OSU Nurses Organization sent a letter to a labor relations official at the Wexner Medical Center demanding to bargain the hospital's new COVID-19 vaccination requirement, make exceptions, provide compensation for time missed due to vaccine side effects and the ability to negotiate the timeline of the hospital's new vaccine requirement.



"We are formally demanding to bargain the implementation of a new mandatory vaccine requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine, including by not limited to the topics of the timeline, exceptions, discipline, and compensation for time missed due to vaccine side effect," Rick Lucas, president of the OSU Nurses Organization, said in the letter dated Aug. 3. "In order to build trust and ensure safety in the workplace, vaccines must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced. Mandating vaccines without negotiation will only result in more people leaving the bedside at a time when staffing levels are already low following the trauma of the past year."

The following day, the Ohio Nurses Association issued a statement echoing the OSU Nurses Organization letter, saying vaccines should be "negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced."

ONA officials said in the statement the vaccine is an important tool and that everyone should be vaccinated to protect the community unless they have a personal, medical or religious exception.

However, the officials urged hospital officials to negotiate with their employees.

"We must work together to overcome vaccine hesitancy to safeguard our communities.  This makes vaccine advocacy more important than ever, and medical professionals must be on the front lines of correcting the rampant vaccine disinformation campaign that is costing lives," ONA officials said in the statement.

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, OhioHealth and Nationwide Children's Hospital last week announced new COVID-19 vaccine requirements as the number of cases continue to rise due to the delta variant.

Faculty, staff and students at the Wexner Medical Center, where 72% of employees are vaccinated, must get the vaccine or an approved exception by Oct. 15.

“As health care providers, we know getting vaccinated is the best way to build immunity and to protect our patients, our colleagues, our families, and ourselves. We’re proud that more than 72% of our over 27,000 employees have already chosen to be vaccinated against COVID-19. With the highly infectious Delta variant and cases rising once again in Ohio, now is the time to move forward with this expansion of our vaccine requirements to include the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Hal Paz, executive vice president and chancellor for Health Affairs at The Ohio State University and chief executive officer of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. 

The deadline for OhioHealth employees to get the vaccine by Dec. 1. Nationwide Children's said all employees, care providers, volunteers and venders must get the vaccine effective Oct. 1, where 75% of staff members are already vaccinated. 

Nationwide Children's Hospital officials said the mandate is needed to protect young children, many of whom are too young to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

"The majority of our patients are under the age of 12 and unable at this time to receive the vaccine, making them among the most vulnerable. With the onset of the new, highly contagious delta variant and recent surges in COVID-19 cases across many of our communities, we must ensure that all our team members are protected and do our part in creating the safest environment possible for all those we serve," said Danielle Warner, a spokeswoman with Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Mount Carmel Health was the first central Ohio health system to mandate employees receive the vaccine. 

All Mount Carmel employees must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 21.

Officials announced the mandate in early July when 25% of its nearly 12,000 employees were not vaccinated.