MILLINOCKET — Mllinocket Regional Hospital is the first in Maine to require staff to become fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to officials.
Millinocket Regional Hospital CEO Robert Peterson said the board decided on this new requirement because it is imperative to keep both staff and patients in good health.
“The most effective tool right now for knocking this pandemic down is vaccination. We as an institution have taken a leadership role to be sure all of our staff have been vaccinated for COVID to make sure our environment is the safest possible,” Peterson said.
The decision comes after the recent surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
“The Delta variant is responsible for over 80 percent of new COVID cases throughout the country, that is a very important piece of our decision making,” said Peterson.
There are currently 4,451 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Penobscot County right now and Peterson said he hopes to keep that number to a minimum.
“My major goal is to make sure staff is safe and they can provide care without fear of contracting COVID-19,” said Peterson.
This will go into effect once it is approved by the FDA.
As for Northern Light Health, they released a statement saying they are aware other hospitals in Maine are requiring the vaccine but for now, they will continue to consult with clinical experts on their approach.
“We are aware other organizations across the nation and in Maine are requiring vaccinations and support those organizations that believe this is the best way for them to protect their staff, employees, patients and clients. At this time, our focus remains on voluntary vaccination, education, and outreach. we continue to consult with our clinical experts and others on the best approach”
This requirement from Millinocket Regional Hospital comes after the CDC announced new mask recommendations in the state.
The first recommendation was announced on Wednesday saying people should wear face coverings when in an indoor public setting in high-risk areas.
The second recommendation says teachers, staff and visitors at kindergarten to grade 12 schools should wear face coverings.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, explained what prompted this shift.
“What precipitated this shift is the recommendation with the U.S. CDC, in a word, is the Delta variant,” Shah said.
“In a word, the Delta variant is different from other strains of this virus,” he said. “Based on what we know today, the Delta variant is more widely and more formidably, it’s roughly twice as contagious,” said Shah.
Numerous other Maine hospitals are considering the same requirement but there is no word yet on what other hospitals will also adopt these new requirements.