Oklahoma City hospital officials react to COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City metro hospital officials are reacting after a federal judge in Louisiana blocked President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on healthcare workers in Oklahoma and 11 other states.

The ruling came down Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty blocked the mandate after Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and attorneys general from 11 other states, including Oklahoma, filed a request for preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Louisiana on Nov. 15.

Photo goes with story
The COVID-19 vaccine being administered.

KFOR reached out to several of the region’s hospital networks to see if they plan to stop requiring workers to become vaccinated. Their responses are provided below:

OU Health:

“Due to the federal court injunction, healthcare providers, including OU Health, are not required to enforce a federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate for employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Under the now paused CMS rule, OU Health employees were required to either submit a request for a religious or medical exemption, or receive the first dose of a two-dose Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by December 6 (and the full two-dose regimen or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by January 4, 2022).

OU Health’s vaccine program continues to require the participation of all employees, either by getting vaccinated or applying for and receiving an exemption. OU Health strongly encourages vaccines for all employees, including those who do not interact with patients or have occasional patient contact.”

OU HEALTH

Mercy Health:

“As part of Mercy’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of everyone who walks through our doors, Mercy will continue to enforce its COVID-19 vaccine policy for co-workers because we believe it is the right thing to do to protect our communities from the spread of this deadly virus. Mercy announced its vaccination requirement in July prior to any federal requirements. We join the CDC, many other health care organizations and companies in our communities and across the country, who mutually recognize COVID vaccination serves the common good, protects patients and is crucial to safeguarding public health.”

MERCY HEALTH

INTEGRIS Health:

“INTEGRIS Health leadership has been made aware of recent events surrounding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 health care staff vaccination rule and wanted to address these events with caregivers.

On Nov. 30, 2021, a court temporarily blocked CMS from enforcing its vaccine mandate for health care workers. An appeal and further litigation is likely, but not certain as to when it would occur.

INTEGRIS Health has had tremendous compliance from our caregivers and providers thus far with more than 97 percent being either vaccinated or exempted. For this reason, we are carrying forward with application of the rule in our updated vaccine policy as previously communicated. The policy for COVID-19 vaccination now mirrors our flu vaccination requirements.

What does this mean to Caregivers?

Beginning Mon., Dec. 6, 2021:

Caregivers who are non-compliant (have not received at least one vaccine or an approved exemption) will be prevented from being scheduled for work unless and until they either receive the vaccine or complete the exemption process.”

INTEGRIS HEALTH

SSM Health:

“Together with many health systems throughout the country, over the summer, SSM Health St. Anthony was the first health system in Oklahoma to require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – if they were not previously – or apply for religious or medical exemptions. As an organization, we completed this process this fall. We are proud to do our part to do everything we can to keep our patients, employees and the community safe, and we encourage all Oklahomans to take advantage of safe, proven vaccine options.”

SSM HEALTH

Attorneys general from the following states, in addition to Oklahoma and Louisiana, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Attorney General John O’Connor both issued statements after Doughty halted the mandate. Those statements are as follows:

“I am pleased that federal courts have blocked yet another one of President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandates.

I stand with Attorney General John O’Connor and the Legislature as we fight back to defend our individual liberties and want Oklahomans to know we will continue standing up to the Biden Administration’s excessive federal overreach.”

GOV. KEVIN STITT

“This is a major win for the medical freedom of Oklahoma’s healthcare heroes who have fearlessly braved the pandemic to keep the rest of us healthy.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN O’CONNOR

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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