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Washington Regional mandating COVID-19 vaccine for workers

Washington Regional will consider accommodation requests on an individualized, case-by-case basis based on disabilities or religious beliefs.

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.

The health care provider recently went into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 Surge Plan as more Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus. 

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. 

RELATED: Mercy to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees

RELATED: MANA physicians, staff will be required to get COVID-19 vaccine

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.