Minnie Hamilton Health System is now requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for its staff.

Following the lead of WVU Medicine and other major healthcare systems in the state, Minnie Hamilton issued a release announcing the mandate.

The protocol is to be followed like annual flu shot vaccination requirements with the exception of people whose medical conditions or religion keep them from getting the shot.

“Minnie Hamilton Health System continues to be committed to keeping our facilities safe for every patient, visitor, resident and staff member,” Stephen Whited, Minnie Hamilton CEO, said. “The health and safety of our community, patients, residents and staff has always been our number one priority.”

With the rise in delta variant cases, the release said a majority of the infections stemmed from those who are not vaccinated and those who are hospitalized with COVID complications “are more likely to be unvaccinated.”

The release said all available vaccines “have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 and reducing risk for hospitalization and death.”

Chief of Staff Dr. Suresh Balasubramony cited the importance of the vaccine and encouraged people to take advantage of the free shots.

“It is clear that the COVID-19 vaccines are our best defense in regard to prevention of infection in both our employees and patients. We must take the lead in this health care struggle. Minnie Hamilton Health System can easily receive vaccines via a federal program, so there are relatively no supply barriers,” he said. “The vaccines are free and the recent announcement by the FDA regarding the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine is tremendous news.”

With Minnie Hamilton staff members taking care of long-term patients as well, the release said vaccinated employees will help protect those people as well.

“It’s essential for Minnie Hamilton Health System along with other West Virginia hospitals and health systems to proactively lead in this critical mission to increase vaccination rates in our state,” Whited said. “We encourage all West Virginians to receive the vaccine to help us reduce COVID-19 transmission rates and protect our families, friends and neighbors.”