Tyson, Mercy say nearly all employees vaccinated

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Two of Carroll County’s largest employers recently reported that almost all of their employees have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Tyson Foods, which is the county’s largest employer with plants in Berryville and Green Forest, announced Tuesday, Oct. 26, that more than 96 percent of its active workforce has been vaccinated. Tyson employs 120,000 workers in the U.S., including more than 2,600 in Carroll County.

Tyson announced in August that it was requiring all of its employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, with exceptions for workers who seek medical or religious accommodations.

Since then, according to a Tyson news release, nearly 60,000 of the company’s employees have been fully vaccinated.

Donnie King

“It is thanks to the dedication and courage of thousands of our team members, who stepped up and signed up to keep themselves, their families and their communities better protected against this deadly virus,” Tyson president and chief executive officer Donnie King said in a note to employees that was included in the company’s news release. “Like many of you, I have worked at this company for decades, and I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when we came together as we did over the past few weeks. We did this together, and we should all be incredibly proud.”

King’s note also addresses employees who left the company rather than comply with the vaccine mandate.

“I’d also like to say to those who remain unvaccinated – this is your choice, and we respect that choice,” King writes. “If you change your mind and want to rejoin Tyson – let us know. Our doors are open.”

On Thursday, Oct. 28, Mercy Health System, which operates a hospital and clinic in Berryville, announced that all of its employees have been vaccinated, with the exception of those who received a religious or medical exemption.

Mercy employees who received exemptions undergo rigorous masking and protective equipment protocols and frequent testing, according to a news release.

“By requiring all co-workers to be vaccinated, we are making sure anyone who walks through any door of any Mercy facility is better protected from COVID-19,” said Dr. John Mohart, Mercy’s chief clinical officer and senior vice president. “What we all know is that when you visit a doctor’s office or hospital, you’re often already compromised in some way – whether it’s a cold or cancer or diabetes. That makes it even more urgent for us to make sure Mercy does everything possible to protect our patients, visitors and co-workers. It’s our responsibility as a health care organization to make our spaces as safe as possible. We take that responsibility very seriously.”

Mercy announced in mid-July that all employees at its hospitals and clinics would be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 30. In announcing its 100 percent vaccination rate for non-exempt employees, Mercy said that on Oct. 1, any employee who had not been vaccinated or received an approved exemption was placed on a 28-day unpaid suspension with full benefits and given the opportunity to comply with the vaccination mandate.

“We have done everything possible to assist our co-workers in doing the right thing for our communities and for each other,” said Dr. Jeff Ciaramita, Mercy’s chief physician executive and senior vice president. “Ultimately, it was their decision. Like the flu shot, which is also required, we know this is the only decision for a health care organization.”

Mercy employs approximately 125 people in Berryville.

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