Health care, nursing home and extended care workers must be vaccinated. 

People hate the word mandate but jobs often come with requirements. 

Requiring those who are in direct contact with the sick and vulnerable to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is absolutely the right thing to do. 

When we saw the data uncovering the large percentage of nursing home employees who are still unvaccinated, we were shocked. 

What does it say about us if we do not do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable among us? 

Risking the reckless spread of COVID-19 in a nursing home facility is a risk no one should ever consider. 

Of course, we don’t like the thought of anyone losing a job but, as we said, jobs come with responsibilities and requirements. 

Our reporting has disclosed that nationwide, 64.4% of nursing homes staff had been vaccinated by mid September and more than half of nursing home personnel in many states fell far below the national average.

Here in Georgia, it was estimated 220 of the state’s more than 350 nursing homes had less than 64.4% of staff fully vaccinated.

PruittHealth, which owns more than 50 nursing and retirement homes in Georgia, announced a vaccine mandate back on Aug. 9. All staff must be vaccinated by today. It was the right thing to do. 

We learned there is one nursing home facility over in Alabama that reported a staff vaccination rate of 24.4 %. That is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Almost every day more people die in our community. 

While there may be some modest signs the pace of the surge is slowing — with hospitalizations declining —  this outbreak, as has often been said, has become the pandemic of the unvaccinated. 

More than 130 people have died from COVID-19 in the past three months at our hospital, and around 425 have died at SGMC since the beginning of the pandemic. 

South Health District continues to urge anyone older than the age of 12, who has not been vaccinated, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

It seems like we do not hear as much these days about other mitigation measures, but South Health District is also issuing reminders to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by mask wearing (for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals) in areas of high transmission, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding crowded settings.

There are several things we all must do to keep ourselves and others safe. 

Health care, nursing home and extended care workers must all be fully vaccinated immediately. 

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