FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Washington Regional will require all employees, medical and allied health members, students, clinical rotators and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1, 2021, according to an internal memo obtained by 5NEWS.
"Our number one priority is the safety of our patients, their families, and our staff," the memo states. " As there is a safe and effective vaccine, and as we are in the midst of a third surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, it is essential that we set the example in protecting the health of our patients, co-workers and community."
Washington Regional will consider accommodation requests on an individualized, case-by-case basis based on disabilities or sincere religious beliefs.
Mercy and Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas (MANA) have also made requirements for workers to be immunized for COVID-19 by the end of September.
All three hospitals have said that a majority of COVID patients they are caring for are unvaccinated. According to data from the Arkansas Department of Health, 40% of Arkansans age 12 and older have received both shots of the vaccine.
Since June, COVID-19 hospitalizations have quadrupled. Health care leaders blame this on the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, relaxed mask requirements and low vaccination rates. A UAMS model forecasts hospitalizations will spike into the thousands, creating unstable conditions for hospitals across Arkansas.