LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) Ochsner Health is now requiring their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The employee vaccination mandate comes after the FDA fully approved the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.

Ochsner has eight hospitals in the Acadiana region, including Lafayette General and University Hospital.

System officials say if their employees don’t get vaccinated, they’ll be out of a job.

“With Pfizer now receiving full FDA approval, Ochsner is moving forward with mandating the vaccine for our employees,” Ochsner Health CEO and President Warner Thomas said.

“It’s now been FDA approved. No longer can we sit back and say, ‘I’m waiting on FDA approval.’ It’s approved. It’s safe. It’s effective. We need to get this, so we can continue to pull ourselves out of this pandemic and begin to move forward with our lives,” Ochsner Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Hart added.

Ochsner Health officials say 66% of their employees are fully vaccinated, but they want that number at 100%.

“Especially when we know we are losing lives daily, due to people that are reluctant to take the vaccine. We know that 88% of those in our hospitals are unvaccinated still, and so we know that would be 88% of people that could be at home rather in the hospital if they had been vaccinated,” Ochsner Health Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention Dr. Katherine Baumgarten said.

The health system leaders say their employees will have until October 29 to get vaccinated.

If they do not get the vaccination, they’ll be placed on suspension for 30 days.

If they still do not get vaccinated within that 30-day suspension period, officials say the employee will be terminated.

“We want to encourage people to keep getting vaccinated. The way out of this is to have folks continue to get vaccinated, and that’s one of the reasons that you see that we are now mandating vaccines across our system,” the Ochsner CEO and President added.

Ochsner officials say they are not requiring visitors to get the vaccine, but that is something they are thinking about implementing.