YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Bon Secours Mercy Health announced Tuesday that they are not mandating workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Youngstown market, but they are highly recommending it.

In a letter to workers, the health care provider said that proceeding with a COVID-19 vaccine requirement in markets where the “community has not adopted a common vaccination standard provides nominal community immunity benefit, while significantly increasing staffing challenges that could put our community at risk,” hospital leaders wrote.

Mercy Health is recommending workers get the vaccine but will not require it here. This also applies to remote associates who work more than 30 miles away from a Mercy Health acute care facility.

In a statement issued following the message to workers, officials said they will continue to monitor information:

Mercy Health continues to monitor and evaluate the rapidly changing information regarding the CMS COVID-19 vaccine mandate. We continue to strongly recommend that our employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but will not require it, in our Youngstown market. This decision doesn’t change how we feel about the COVID-19 vaccine – it is safe, highly-effective and how we will move beyond this pandemic. We are taking this step to ensure we maintain safe staffing in our markets, to respond to the needs of our communities. Providing quality patient care is our highest priority, and we are deeply committed to improving the health and well-being of our communities. 

Bon Secours Mercy Health

Hospital leaders say this decision does not change how they feel about the COVID-19 vaccine, believing that it is safe and highly effective, but it’s a step “we must take to ensure we maintain safe staffing in our market.”

This comes after the hospital system said last week that they were moving forward with plans to “meet the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid requirement for health care workers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.”