North Country hospitals prepare as vaccine deadline looms


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Local hospitals and nursing homes are in the final push to get their employees vaccinated ahead of the state deadline.

As required by New York State, all healthcare workers, which includes staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities are mandated to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. In the North Country, 14% of all hospital staff have yet to be fully vaccinated as this deadline is now only days away.

Since this mandate was announced in mid-August, there has been pushback from local and state officials, as well as healthcare employees. This has led to staff resignations, resulting in shortages at local hospitals.

However, as of September 22, 86% of all hospital workers in the North Country had completed their COVID vaccine series. St. Lawrence County currently has the highest rate of fully vaccinated hospital workers, standing at 87%. In both Jefferson and Lewis counties, 81% of hospital workers have gotten the vaccine.

Data for each hospital in the three counties is listed below:

  • Carthage Area Hospital, Inc.: 79%
  • Claxton-Hepburn Hospital: 95%
  • Clifton-Fine Hospital: 91%
  • Gouveneur Hospital: 81%
  • Lewis County General Hospital: 81%
  • Massena Hospital: 85%
  • River Hospital, Inc.: 83%
  • Samaritan Medical Center: 81%

Healthcare workers are required to receive the first dose of the vaccine by September 27 and be fully vaccinated by October 7. Each healthcare institution is responsible for developing a plan for the implementation of the mandate, and any action it will take regarding non-compliant employees.

According to NYSDOH, the percentage of hospital workers with a completed vaccine series is calculated from the number of eligible staff and the number completing the recommended series of a given COVID-19 vaccine product. This includes either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Over 450,000 New York hospital workers first became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination program. Hospital worker vaccination progress is self-reported by individual hospital facilities on a weekly basis.

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