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Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The largest health care system in Louisiana will charge its employees $200 a month if a spouse or domestic partner covered under its health plan is not vaccinated against the coronavirus, NOLA reports.

Why it matters: The new rule, which will take effect in 2022, comes as the vast majority of coronavirus patients who end up hospitalized are unvaccinated.

The big picture: Ochsner Health, which employs nearly 32,000 employees and over 4,500 physicians, calls the policy the "spousal COVID vaccine fee," according to a letter Ochsner leaders sent to employees, NOLA reports.

  • Ochsner will add a health insurance surcharge of $100 per pay period, which adds up $2,400 yearly from an employee's bi-weekly paycheck.
  • CEO Warner Thomas said the company spent more than $9 million on COVID-19 care for those covered under its health plans, per NOLA. Thomas said the surcharge will keep health premiums low for employees.
  • Unvaccinated patients accounted for 90% of COVID hospitalizations in Ochsner facilities, per NOLA.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - World

Gates Foundation to send $120 million of COVID antiviral pills to lower-income countries

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Wednesday it will funnel up to $120 million worth of molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral COVID-19 treatment from Merck, to lower-income countries.

Why it matters: The foundation and others see the antiviral pill's promising results against severe COVID-19 and easy distribution as a way to target countries with low vaccination rates.

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

The global coronavirus vaccine gap

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, particularly low-income countries. Pressure is increasing on the Biden administration to close the gap — and the Biden administration, in turn, is pushing Moderna to fill it.

Why it matters: Getting global vaccination rates as high as possible isn't just a humanitarian effort; it also reduces the risk of vaccine-resistant variants emerging.

15 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

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