MercyOne, a West Des Moines-based statewide health system that employs more than 20,000 people, announced Tuesday that it will require all of its employees and medical staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. MercyOne operates more than 420 care locations primarily in Iowa, including 18 owned or joint-venture medical centers and 25 affiliated hospitals. “As a faith-based health ministry, we have pledged to protect the most vulnerable,” MercyOne CEO Bob Ritz said in a release. “Our patients and their families expect us to provide a safe environment for their care, and that includes being vaccinated.” MercyOne joins more than 100 hospitals and health systems in the United States, including UnityPoint Health, in requiring employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines also announced Tuesday it will mandate vaccines for its employees by Nov. 1, the Des Moines Register reported. MercyOne employees in Central Iowa will have until Nov. 1 to submit proof of vaccination, and the health system is allowing employees who are not able to be vaccinated for strongly held religious beliefs or medical reasons to apply for an exemption. MercyOne is encouraging all Iowans to get vaccinated.