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Some Arizona hospitals to require workers to get vaccinated

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Nurses and COVID

TUCSON (KVOA) - In a news conference that was held on Wednesday, Banner Health's top doctor said the vaccine mandate deadline for Banner employees is a few weeks away.

According to the Arizona Nurses Association, the group advocates for more than 100,000 Arizona nurses.

"The pandemic has exacerbated what was already a very difficult environment to work in," Dawna Cato, CEO of Arizona Nurses Association said.

Dawna Cato leads the Arizona Nurses Association. She says it's no secret there's a nursing shortage across the state.

"The concern is that we just simply don't have enough nurses to care for the patients entering the hospital doors," Cato said.

Another variable that could play into this shortage, nurses who don't want to get the vaccine.

Two Tucson hospitals, Tucson Medical Center and Banner University Medical Center are requiring their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The deadline at TMC is Thursday.

In a statement, the hospital said quote:

"At this time, we have about 60 staff that have not received the COVID-19 vaccine and 150 who have been granted waivers. We are hoping to be at 99 percent compliance, but won't know exactly until the end of the day Thursday because there are still staff who are receiving vaccines."

Angela Pittenger, TMC Spokeswoman

The state's largest health care system will mandate the vaccine later this fall with some religious and medical exemptions.

"It is banner health's absolute intent to have every one of our team members be compliant with our mandatory vaccination process," Dr. Bessel said.

"We want our nurses to become vaccinated if they so choose. It will help to aid in the decrease of the hospital burden and also a role model to those that may be on the fence about getting vaccinated," Cato said.

Dr. Bessel said right now the number of patients at banner hospitals on ventilators is higher than during the summer surge in 2020.