MIAMI (CBSMiami) — CBS4 has learned that nearly 80 percent of the 13,500 employees in the Jackson Health System have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

A Jackson Health System spokeswoman tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that 79 percent of the employees at the system’s 7 hospitals have been vaccinated and that is up from 60 percent just three weeks ago.

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That was when Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya said that starting August 23rd, doctors, nurses, employees, and vendors affiliated with Jackson Health would face a requirement to be vaccinated. And those not doing that would be required to wear N95 masks at all times in all facilities.

Dr. Suzanne Bialeck, who has been a doctor for 10 years and who has been with Jackson Health for three years, works in the emergency room and said she applauded the sharp increase in the number of people being vaccinated.

She said, “I am glad there has been a big push for everyone to get vaccinated. In the emergency room, we have seen the consequences and people not getting vaccinated and I am glad we are getting on board with it, making it a safe environment for everyone. We know there are breakthrough cases but really the sickest patients are those not vaccinated.”

There had been some resistance.

Bialeck said, “Everything with COVID is new and I think there are a lot of rumors and it initially was not FDA approved and people were scared of long-term and short-term side effects but I think with recent FDA approval, especially with the Phizer being offered here has really helped other people come on board with the vaccine and make people feel safer with that.”

Bialeck added that is critical because the days have been exhausting.

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“Honestly the last few weeks have been rough. We have been overwhelmed with COVID patients. We have open beds and have a lot of patients back on ventilators and breathing machines and it has been a pretty challenging time here in the emergency department,” he said.

Tema Roseborough, a Medical Assistant at the Miami Transplant Institute, said, “I feel good that more people are getting vaccinated. It means more people are becoming aware. It’s important because no one wants to die.”

Lorna Dorce, an anesthesia technician at Jackson Memorial Hospital, said, “I feel like everyone should get vaccinated. With more people vaccinated fewer people will get infected. I got vaccinated because I want to protect my patients. I want to protect my family and everyone else I encounter because I work here at the hospital and people get sick and I want to keep everyone safe.”

The spike in inoculations follows a dire warning from CEO Carlos Migoya on August 12th when he was asked about the patients in the COVID ICU units and told D’Oench “97 percent are carrying the Delta variant. That is very serious. This is an extremely infectious virus. It is 12 to 13 times as infectious as the other one and carries much more power to it.”

The Jackson Health system had also set up pop-up vaccination sites for employees and was offering a $150 bonus to employees who are fully vaccinated by September 30th.

Those not getting vaccinated would not be allowed to go into any cafeteria, dining room or coffee shop and would not be allowed to take off their mask to eat or dine in any facility. They would only be allowed to eat outside and could not remove their masks in lounges or break rooms.

Unvaccinated workers would have to attend meetings through Zoom and would have to take an educational course on the benefits of the vaccine.

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Migoya said, “If they are going to get vaccinated we will make sure they wear an N95 masks at all times and they can not go to in-person meetings except huddles on the patient floors.”

Peter D'Oench