DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Premier Health will require all medical staff and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 1, 2021.

“At Premier Health, our commitment to safeguarding the health of our patients, visitors, providers and staff is always our highest priority,” said Mary Boosalis, president and CEO of Premier Health. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is our best tool to prevent spread of the disease and ensure the health and well-being of our hospital workforce and the communities we serve.”

Premier Health said that the scientific evidence and real-world experience show the vaccines are safe and effective. Most hospitals already require vaccinations for other highly communicable diseases, such as influenza, as a condition of employment.

“With the highly infectious Delta variant and cases on the rise in Ohio and across the nation, this is an important step to help ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in our facilities and sites of care,” said Dr. Marc Belcastro, chief medical officer for Premier Health. “It’s the right thing to do.”

This comes as the Ohio Department of Health is tracking a steady increase in cases across the state. Montgomery County has now shifted from having a “substantial” level of community transmission to “high,” which is the highest designation given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It was the right thing to do, doesn’t mean it was an easy decision and sometimes doing the right thing isn’t an easy thing to do,” said Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical officer for Miami Valley Hospital.

Colon says the December deadline was crucial to allow time for employees to ask questions or obtain exemptions.

“This is not going to be an easy step for everyone,” said Colon. “You need time to address questions and some individuals who have a medical or religious exemption will take time, plus it’s two shots.”

This rise in cases has largely been attributed to the Delta variant, which has been compared to chickenpox. This variant of the virus has been observed infecting people vaccinated against COVID-19, something doctors are calling a “breakthrough” case.