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Tri-state hospitals explain why staff vaccination numbers uncertain

Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 5:05 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 18:34:07-04

Hospital administrators in Greater Cincinnati do not know how many staff and volunteers are already vaccinated against COVID-19, officials said Tuesday, just days after announcing they would require them to get the shot this fall.

“We simply don’t know,” said Mercy Health's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Feagins. “Many vaccines were given certainly by us to employees, but there are many sites of vaccination: pharmacies, mass vaccinations sites.”

Last week, all six hospital systems from our area said they will require staff and volunteers to get the vaccine.

University of Cincinnati Medical Center created the pilot program to vaccinate workers. Spokesperson Amanda Nageleisen said the team built the program quickly to slow the virus. Because they were treating staff as patients, those records are now private.

Nageleisen says UC Medical Center knows how many doses it administered when the vaccine was available to only healthcare workers. She says that data indicated a high number of staff vaccinated. However, she says when the vaccine became available to the general public, administrators were unable to decipher which patients were healthcare workers and which were part of the general public.

Doctors say they’ll have data when mandates kick in this fall and employees are required to report their status.

“There are a lot, a lot of individuals who would actually prefer to work in an environment where they know everyone is vaccinated,” said Dr. Feagins.

Health and Human Services requested that hospitals report the number weekly starting Jan. 13. WCPO was still waiting for Greater Cincinnati data as of late Tuesday afternoon.

WCPO asked Mercy Health, Tri-Health, Christ Hospital, University of Cincinnati, and UC Children’s if they have followed guidance to report it but did not immediately hear back.

“Asking people for vaccine cards is going to take time,” said Dominic Mendiola.

Mendiola is a labor representative for the Ohio Nurses Association. The union represents 1,700 nurses at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The local chapter there is called the Registered Nurses Association of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

“We’re surveying our members to try to see voluntarily who wants to disclose to us who is vaccinated,” said Mendiola. So far, 70 percent of survey respondents are vaccinated, he said.