Ochsner Health now requiring employees to get vaccine

By KEVIN McGILL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana’s largest hospital system, Ochsner Health, said Tuesday that it is requiring all of its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29.

The announcement came a day after the Pfizer vaccine received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration; and as the state health department announced 3,814 new confirmed or probable cases statewide.

There were also 139 confirmed or “probable” virus-related deaths reported Tuesday. Hospitalizations, which had been declining after setting records for much of August, ticked up again in Tuesday’s report, increasing by 18 to 2,856.

“This policy is the right thing to do to protect our employees, their families, and our patients,” Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas said in a news release about the vaccine mandate.

Ochsner Health, based in suburban New Orleans, scheduled an afternoon briefing. System officials say 69% of its employees are already vaccinated. Ochsner owns, manages or is affiliated with 40 hospitals and more than 100 health centers and urgent care centers throughout Louisiana and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to its website.

Also Tuesday, Louisiana State University released its timeline for requiring students to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Students will have until Sept. 10 to submit proof of their first shot or file paperwork to opt out of the vaccination requirement. Under Louisiana law, students can provide a doctor’s note citing a medical condition that precludes getting the vaccine or a “written dissent” form objecting to the shot.

LSU students will have until Oct. 15 to submit proof of full vaccination, if they haven’t filed the exemption paperwork.

The university also said Tuesday that getting into a football game this fall will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test.

LSU’s announcement said the university will require all Tiger Stadium guests 12 years and older to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to entry. The policy will be in effect for LSU’s home opener against McNeese St on Sept. 11.

Governor John Bel Edwards, LSU President William F. Tate IV, LSU’s Board of Supervisors, the Tiger Athletic Foundation and Athletic Director Scott Woodward all support the decision, the announcement said.

The FDA previously had cleared the Pfizer shots for use on an emergency basis. Pfizer is the first vaccine to get full FDA approval.

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