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SIH Will Require COVID Vaccine For All Employees

The health system is seeing an influx of COVID patients as the Delta variant spreads.

All employees with Southern Illinois Healthcare will be required to fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 8th. The policy will apply to all SIH facilities and all employees, including volunteers, students, and non-medical staff.

Nursing Supervisor Jennifer Harre said the policy is in line with other vaccine requirements for healthcare workers.

"Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine is the right decision as we know the vaccine is safe and it gives our employees the best chance of surviving a COVID-19 infection," Harre said. "This requirement is consistent with longstanding practices requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against other serious infectious disease for the safety of our patients and our staff."

Those who are not yet vaccinated will be required to get weekly COVID tests starting September 10th.

Chief Medical Officer Marci Moore-Connelly said they did consider the risk of losing staff who oppose the mandate but the main factor in the decision was the safety of patients and employees.

"At this point in time, 52 percent of our employees are vaccinated and yes, staffing is tight but again, that's how important we think this decision is for our community and for the safety of our staff," she said.

In addition to the vaccine mandate, SIH is also reviewing and postponing outpatient procedures that require a hospital stay. Patients are also being restricted to one visitor per day.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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