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Cleveland VA Medical Center Staff Must Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Cleveland VA Medical Center
Cleveland VA doctors and nurses must be vaccinated within 8 weeks now that the federal agency is mandating the shot for frontline staff.

Doctors and other medical staff at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center are being required by the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs to get the COVID-19 vaccine, making them the first medical professionals in Northeast Ohio required to be vaccinated.

The VA  announced the requirement Monday for health care personnel who provide direct care.

All of the Northeast Ohio facilities are included in the vaccine mandate, including the main facility on East Boulevard and all outpatient clinics, said Kristen Parker, chief of communications at the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System.  

The Northeast Ohio VA has more than 5,490 employees across a 21-county area, Parker said. Those required by the order to be vaccinated include physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors.

Employees will have eight weeks to become fully vaccinated.

The VA is the first federal agency to impose a vaccine mandate, and the news comes after more than 50 medical associations on Monday recommended vaccine requirements for health care workers.

In a statement, the VA said four unvaccinated employees recently died after contracting COVID-19. A more contagious mutation of the virus, called the delta variant, is causing infection rates to spike.

None of the other Cleveland-area hospital systems, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, and University Hospitals, have plans to mandate vaccinations at this time. Instead, they are focusing on encouraging employees to get the shot.

At this time, MetroHealth has nearly 80% of its employees and staff vaccinated, said Dorsena Drakeford spokesperson.

Marlene Harris-Taylor
Marlene is the director of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.