Marshall Health and the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine announced today that they will require COVID-19 vaccination of all employees and students by Oct. 31, 2021. The decision comes following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week as well as the announcement by the West Virginia Hospital Association that it supports hospital and health systems in requiring vaccination of employees.
“This pandemic is not over, and as a leading health care organization in the area, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our patients, employees, students and community,’ said Joseph E. Evans, M.D., chief medical officer for Marshall Health and vice dean of clinical affairs for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “The science and data support vaccination as the most effective way to protect ourselves and each other and prevent further community spread.” Prior to the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, approximately 80 percent of employees and students at Marshall Health and the School of Medicine were fully vaccinated under the emergency use authorization.
The vaccine requirement applies to all faculty and staff at the School of Medicine and Marshall Health; resident physicians and fellows; and all medical students, physician assistant students and graduate students in biomedical sciences. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated or approved for a medical or religious exemption, will be required to follow additional health and safety precautions, including completion of at least one asymptomatic COVID-19 test per week.
This policy extends to all students and basic science faculty within the School of Medicine because of the interactions they are having in the clinics and classrooms, Evans said. Masking and PPE requirements also remain in place in all academic, clinical and administrative facilities.
“As our experience with COVID-19 continues, the means by which we live our lives will continue to evolve,” said Kara S. Willenburg, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Marshall Health and professor of medicine at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “Vaccination and masking are the most effective ways to prevent further spread and mutation of a disease that has already taken far too many lives.”
The organizations’ primary teaching hospitals, Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center, members of Mountain Health Network, also announced similar employee vaccination requirements today.
For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccination, please visit marshallhealth.org/patients-visitors/coronavirus.