PORTSMOUTH — Based on recommendations from 56 healthcare organizations – including the Ohio Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association – as well as local medical and scientific experts, Southern Ohio Medical Center is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 17.
Several other hospitals have already taken this step, including OhioHealth, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. SOMC has made this decision after carefully weighing the pros and cons and seeking input from staff.
“We have seen an increase in cases of COVID-19, including among those between 30 and 50 years old,” said pulmonologist Dr. Elie Saab. “The virus does not differentiate based on politics, race or religion. It can impact all of us, and so it’s important for everyone in our community that we set the example by being vaccinated. It’s not just about your own health. It’s about the health of everyone around you.”
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Byers agreed. “As healthcare providers, being fully vaccinated is a matter of patient safety. Our patients, especially those who are immunocompromised, deserve to know they’re entering a facility where we’ve all taken the steps necessary to protect them from this illness.”
Employees with medical, religious or strongly held belief objections will be eligible for exemptions but must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week until the virus is no longer considered a cause for concern.
More than 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered nationwide. The evidence is overwhelming that it is safe and effective. A study by the Cleveland Clinic found fully vaccinated individuals make up fewer than one percent of COVID deaths and hospitalizations since January 1, 2021. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is also no evidence that the vaccine leads to serious long-term side effects such as infertility, sterility or death. Most side effects from the vaccine begin to disappear within 24 hours. The most common side effects are a headache and mild fever.
According to recent data from the Mayo Clinic, Scioto County is one of the most significant hotbeds for COVID-19 in the state. The county’s per capita rate of infection is three times higher than the state average. Vaccines are currently available free of charge at SOMC Community Pharmacy locations in Portsmouth, Wheelersburg and West Union, or any other local provider of COVID-19 vaccines.