COVID-19 vaccines not yet mandatory for Merit Health River Region staff

Published 4:38 pm Thursday, August 26, 2021

While the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and Ochsner Health System in Louisiana both recently announced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for all staff members, Warren County’s hospital is not yet instituting a similar policy.

Merit Health River Region CEO Benjamin Richaud said in a statement the protocol for unvaccinated employees will soon be changing.

“Many of our caregivers have chosen — and some are continuing to choose — to be vaccinated,” Richaud said in a statement. “To ensure the safety of our patients, colleagues and others, we will be instituting routine COVID-19 testing of all unvaccinated hospital and clinic staff beginning Sept. 6.”

Merit Health River Region did not specify how often “routine” COVID-19 testing of staff will take place. 

According to CDC guidelines, masks are required at the hospital for all providers and individuals in a healthcare setting, but the COVID-19 vaccine is not.

Between Aug. 3 and 16, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 539 new cases of COVID-19 in Warren County, bringing up the total number of reported cases since March 2020 to 5,513 — an increase of 11 percent from the previous reporting period.