Cleveland Clinic will require COVID-19 vaccines for employees following the Supreme Court ruling
Updated: 4:29 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2021
Cleveland Clinic will comply with the national health care employee COVID-19 vaccination mandate after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the requirement Thursday, officials said.
All employees will be required to receive their first dose of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the one-dose Johnson and Johnson shot by Jan. 27 and be fully vaccinated by Feb. 28, according to a statement.
"Those who do not receive their vaccinations and who do not have an approved exemption will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence," the statement reads.
University Hospitals officials said in a statement they are “reviewing the most recent ruling to ensure compliance” with the federal mandate. The “overwhelming majority” of employees are vaccinated, according to the statement.
UH officials did not indicate when they would make a decision after their review.
The Biden administration’s rule requires health care systems that receive reimbursements from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), such as hospitals and nursing homes, to mandate vaccinations for employees or risk losing funding.
Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals previously paused their employee vaccination mandates after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on the federal rule in late November 2021.
Now that the rule has been upheld, Cleveland Clinic will likely move forward with the mandate, hospital spokesperson Andrea Pacetti said Thursday.
“We are reviewing the ruling and plan to comply with the federal requirements. We will provide additional details in the coming days,” Pacetti said.
Cleveland Clinic officials previously stated that unvaccinated employees who provide direct clinical care will be tested for COVID-19 periodically.
"As a health system, we continue to strongly encourage all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we are proud that the majority of our employees are already vaccinated," officials said in a statement.
The Supreme Court said the mandate was justified by the spending clause of the Constitution, which allows the federal government to impose conditions when it provides funding for programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
The court struck down a separate federal vaccination mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which had required all companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations and weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees.
Many other Northeast Ohio health care systems had imposed employee vaccination mandates before the CMS rule came out. MetroHealth instituted a mandate in October 2021 and said on Nov. 1 that 94 percent of employees were vaccinated. The hospital system also suspended 5 employees for not complying.
In the Akron area, Summa Health became the first hospital to require employee vaccinations in August 2021. In December, the hospital system announced seven employees were fired for refusing to get vaccinated and 91 percent of its workforce was fully vaccinated.
Akron Children’s Hospital officials also imposed a vaccination mandate and were met with protests and criticism from employees. Earlier this week, hospital officials informed an undisclosed number of unvaccinated workers that they had been placed on unpaid leave. The hospital had imposed a Jan. 11 deadline for employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or have an approved exemption.
Read the full UH statement below:
“We believe, consistent with the scientific consensus, that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the most effective way to protect our caregivers, patients and community from severe illness resulting in hospitalization and death. Since the vaccine became available in late 2020, University Hospitals has encouraged our caregivers to get vaccinated, educated them on the benefits of vaccination and made vaccines readily available to them. The overwhelming majority of our caregivers are vaccinated and we are grateful to them all for their service during this challenging time. We are reviewing the most recent ruling to ensure compliance with federal requirement.”