By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In 10 days, all employees with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital will have to be vaccinated.

The hospital is one of several in South Florida implementing vaccine mandates, along with Memorial Healthcare System and Baptist Health.

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Those who don’t get vaccinated will be subjected to mandated weekly testing.

The goal, according to Nicklaus Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marcos Mestre, is 100% vaccination.

Hospital administrative leaders have reached that goal and there is still 10 days left for the rest of the employees.

“Initially, there were a lot of questions, naturally,” said Dr. Mestre. “So far, there’s been a good response.”

Prior to the requirement, about 70% of all staff had voluntarily gotten vaccinated. That number amongst physicians was even higher at 95%.

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Since the requirement was announced, a little over half of those who weren’t vaccinated have done so.

Eighty-five percent of staff members are now vaccinated, with about 5% given exemptions. Most of those who were hesitant are younger staff members.

“We see younger staff not being as compliant, perhaps not wanting to get the vaccine because they feel that they’re at lower risk,” explained Dr. Mestre. “We try to explain to them we’re trying to limit risks for our patients as well, especially our patients under 12 years of age who can’t get the vaccine.”

Dr. Mestre said hospital leaders have been trying to take an understanding approach, explaining to employees that it’s important to think about the community.

“We’re trying to be understanding when folks have hesitation. We want to have that discussion,” said Dr. Mestre, adding that they’ve held town halls and office hours to have conversations with those who were more hesitant. “With the full approval by the FDA, that helped out as well.”

Even though the deadline is October 15, Dr. Mestre said they’re working with employees on even just getting that first dose.

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Those who don’t comply will still have their jobs but be required to test weekly.

Frances Wang