Baptist Health will require COVID-19 vaccine for medical staff, employees

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Baptist Health announced Tuesday that all employees will be required to receive one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines no later than November 15.

New variants have contributed to a 300% increase in hospitalizations – and, among Baptist Health patients, more than 90% of those hospitalized in recent weeks have been unvaccinated, the hospital said in its statement.

“While we respect personal choice, the aggressive rates of infection resulting from the Delta variant have made it necessary to take this step,” said Michael A. Mayo, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Baptist Health.

LISTEN: CEO Michael Mayo on the decision to mandate vaccinations for staff at Baptist

In keeping with the organization’s flu shot policy, Baptist Health will grant exemptions for medical contraindications and sincerely held religious beliefs.

“In our defense against new variants invading our region, vaccination is the most powerful tool we have,” stated Timothy Groover, MD, interim Chief Medical Officer at Baptist. “The evidence strongly confirms that COVID-19 vaccination reduces hospitalizations, severity of illness and deaths. In order for us to care for the community, we must remain healthy ourselves.”

The decision to require COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers is supported by numerous medical organizations including the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, American College of Physicians and more.

“With more than 12,500 employees, Baptist Health is the area’s largest private employer, and we feel an obligation to lead by example,” Samuel added. “Given the fact that North Florida is considered an ‘area of substantial or high transmission,’ we have to do it all – vaccination, physical distancing, hand hygiene and masking – to truly protect ourselves and others.”

Samantha Mathers

Samantha Mathers, Action News Jax

Samantha Mathers is a digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax.