The hospital in a community that was the epicenter of a coronavirus “super spreader” event is going to require all staff be vaccinated, becoming the first hospital in Maine to do so.
All staff at Millinocket Regional Hospital will be required to be fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Modern vaccines within six weeks of final approval by the Food and Drug Administration, officials said.
“Millinocket Regional Hospital is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees and the safest environment possible for patients to receive care,” said Dr. Robert Peterson, the hospital’s chief executive officer.
A wedding nearly a year ago in the Millinocket area was linked to outbreaks in at least two other locations in Maine, with more than 170 people contracting the virus and seven deaths since then.
Several other Maine hospitals are in discussions about vaccine requirements after national organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association, urged them to do so.
More Maine hospitals are expected to follow Millinocket in announcing vaccine mandates for employees in the near future, Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association, told the Portland Press Herald.
Across Maine, 78.8 percent of hospital staff were vaccinated as of June 30, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hospital decision came as the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading across the state and the country.