JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s only level-one trauma hospital and academic medical center will require all employees and students who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear an N95 mask while inside, a decision that a top official acknowledged would not be popular with everyone in the country’s least vaccinated state and may result in the loss of employees.
University of Mississippi Medical Center Vice Chancellor Dr. LouAnn Woodward said the university has responsibility and an obligation as “the place that takes care of the sickest patients” to set the example for others in health care across the state.
“I feel strongly that this is the right thing to do,” she said, emphasizing that the vaccines are safe and offer strong protection against contracting the potentially life-threatening disease.
The policy will require all of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s 10,000 employees and 3,000 students to either be vaccinated or wear an N95 mask at all times while at any hospital-affiliated facility. The new rule will also apply to contractors, vendors and anyone else who might come into contact with patients.
Visitors will continue to be required to wear masks whether they are vaccinated or not.
The policy will go into effect gradually over the course of three months beginning July 26.
Everyone should be fully vaccinated or wearing an N95 mask at all times by November 1, according to the medical center.