Pfizer Approval Could Impact Cleveland Hospitals' COVID Vaccine Policies

Cleveland-area hospitals aren’t yet requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees, even though many other hospitals across the state have mandated the vaccine. [Jeppe Gustafsson / Shutterstock]
Cleveland-area hospitals aren’t yet requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees, even though many other hospitals across the state have mandated the vaccine. [Jeppe Gustafsson / Shutterstock]
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Many Cleveland-area hospitals aren’t yet requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees, but officials say the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the Pfizer vaccine might encourage them to do so.

On Monday, the FDA fully approved the two-dose vaccine for people ages 16 and older. For adolescents aged 12 to 15 and immunocompromised adults who need a booster shot, the vaccine is still available under an FDA emergency use authorization.

John Palmer, a spokesperson for the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), said the official stamp of approval might make hospitals more likely to require vaccination for employment now.

Hospitals will ultimately make decisions based on what they think is best for their patients and staff, Palmer added.

“Every community’s different, and every hospital has a different handle on the situation," he said. "They might actually have vaccinations going very well.” 

About 75 percent of Cleveland Clinic employees have received the shot, and nearly 80 percent of MetroHealth employees have received the vaccine, according to officials from both hospitals.  

University Hospitals is not releasing information about how many employees have received the vaccine. 

At the very least, the new FDA approval might encourage many hesitant people to get the shot, Palmer said. 

“I think this would definitely be a gamechanger when it comes to those unvaccinated individuals out there that are weighing their options on the effectiveness of the vaccine," he said.

OHA issued a recommendation this month that all hospitals require the vaccine for employees.  

Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals are not requiring the vaccine for employees at this time, but hospital representatives said they are encouraging it and providing education about the vaccine. 

"At this time, we are focusing on encouraging our caregivers to receive the vaccine, providing education and making vaccination as accessible as possible," Cleveland Clinic spokesperson Andrea Pacetti said. 

MetroHealth isn't requiring the vaccine yet either. 

"We're reviewing the data and hope to make a decision soon," said Dorsena Drakeford, a MetroHealth spokesperson. "Right now, it’s still not required."

Many other hospitals across the state, including Summa Health and Akron Children’s Hospital, have already mandated employee vaccinations. 

Staff at the Cleveland VA Medical Center are also required to get the vaccine as part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' vaccine mandate.

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