Calling it the tale of two Ohio’s, state officials said last week that Adams County was one the lowest in the state regarding the number of residents that have received the COVID vaccine. As of Sunday afternoon, 29.16% of the population had received the shot.
Controversy has been brewing for weeks regarding forced vaccinations from employers, such as healthcare facilities around Ohio. Earlier this month, the Ohio Hospital Association recommended that healthcare facilities in the state require their staff to get vaccinated as terms of their employment.
In Southwest Ohio, the Health Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati announced that Cincinnati healthcare systems are also requiring vaccinations for their staff members. That includes Christ Hospital, UC Health, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, TriHealth and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Employers have given a deadline of being vaccinated by October. The Christ Hospital said that its COVID-19 vaccine requirement is consistent with its policies for other immunizations, including required seasonal flu shots.
Many healthcare facilities are already facing a shortage in staff, partially because of fatigue associated with the strain the pandemic has placed on facilities. Portsmouth area healthcare provider Southern Ohio Medical Center has mandated all of their staff to be vaccinated. SOMC says 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. At this time, it is not clear if employees will be required to pay for said tests. SOMC has a small presence in Adams County.
Last week, Adams County Regional Medical Center, the area’s largest healthcare provider announced several job openings for positions at the medical center. The job posting, widely shared on social media read in part, “ACRMC will not require healthcare providers or our staff to be COVID-19 vaccinated.”
In response to the post, ACRMC released the following statement to the Informer: “At this time, Adams County Regional Medical Center (ACRMC) will not require healthcare providers or our staff to be COVID-19 vaccinated unless we are required to do so by a governing body that has authority over our facility. ACRMC encourages our employees and all in our community to be vaccinated to protect themselves and others. Please visitgettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov to find a vaccination location near you.”
The issue of vaccinations is also political in nature. Ohio Speaker of the House Bob Cupp last week authorized the Ohio House Health Committee to hold additional hearings on House Bill 248, which would stop forced vaccinations on Ohioans. The House is in recess for another month; however, the legislation could move out of the House this fall. Governor Mike DeWine has said he won’t sign the measure; however, the GOP holds a super-majority in the legislature and a veto override would be likely.