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Springfield hospitals addressing internal vaccination rates, Gov. Parson criticizes health leaders’ approach to vaccines

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 8:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Governor Mike Parson criticized health leaders’ approach to vaccines on Tuesday, including mandated shots at Mercy Hospital.

The governor said the state is not in a crisis and we knew a surge would hit Missouri as our vaccination rates lag. This comes as local hospitals work to increase the number of shots within their own organizations.

“I think that the message you’re seeing out of southwest Missouri is more of people just trying to blame somebody for this virus,” Gov. Parson said in Kansas City on Tuesday. “The virus itself is to blame.”

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise, Greene County vaccination rates sit shy of 40-percent.

”We just got to figure out how we deal with it,” Gov. Parson said. “I just think healthcare, especially healthcare leaders really need to be encouraging people to know the importance of the vaccine instead of trying to force people to take a vaccine or really just trying to scare them into taking a vaccine, cause we know that doesn’t work.”

The governor’s criticism of vaccine tactics comes after Mercy announced last week it would require employees to get the shot.

”Based on a significant amount of safety and effectiveness data amassed around the world, Mercy will be requiring full vaccination against COVID-19 for all current and future co workers, and physicians,” Mercy Springfield President Brent Hubbard said last week at a news conference.

The hospital defends its position amid the governor’s comments.

”We’ve been strong advocates for the vaccine,” Hubbard. “So we’re leading by example. We’re blazing the trail.”

Over at CoxHealth, employees are not required to get the vaccine.

”We are evaluating it,” CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards said. “An important decision point for us is FDA approval. And that’s information we don’t have yet. We’ve tried to follow science this whole time.”

Edwards said he believes that would change attitudes toward the vaccine.

”I think that hesitancy may go away if FDA approval happens,” he said. “And so we’re going to follow the science and we’re going to evaluate.”

Edwards said between 90% to 95% of CoxHealth doctors are vaccinated, but he said less than 65% of total employees are. Amid some internal vaccine hesitancy, the hospital has had some of its own un-vaccinated employees on ventilators.

”We have three employees hospitalized with COVID,” Edwards told KY3. “One of those is on 50 liters of oxygen. And to give you a reference point, if you’re on oxygen, you’re normally on two to three liters. And I’ll say of those employees, the oldest one is 31.”

Hospital leaders have repeatedly said the Delta variant is affecting younger patients. Many are also sicker, hospital leaders have said. CoxHealth predicts up to a total of 178 patients later this week from a Fourth of July surge.

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