(CBSDFW.COM) – All Baylor Scott & White employees and various other staff will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1, 2021, the hospital system announced Wednesday.
The requirement comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge throughout the U.S., especially among those who are unvaccinated. The emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant has also contributed to the surge.
The health care system released a statement on its decision to require the vaccine among its workers:
With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts due to the highly contagious Delta variant and the start of the flu season fast approaching, we believe now is the right time to take the next step in achieving a fully vaccinated workforce.
By Oct. 1, 2021, all Baylor Scott & White Health employees, providers, volunteers, vendors, students and contract staff must receive both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, unless granted an exemption.
The Delta variant is the most contagious and dangerous strain we have seen to date, leading to exponentially increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization. The overwhelming majority of these cases are among the unvaccinated.
We are committed to making the communities we serve healthier. Whether you are a patient, family member or employee, you can be assured that we have taken every measure to protect you.
Officials said there will be exemptions, such as medical and religious reasons, that will be made for some employees, if needed.
“There may be some people that unfortunately don’t agree and we can’t please everybody, but we want to make our community our patients, our staff, as safe as possible,” said Dr. James Herd, the Chief Medical Officer and Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth.
This comes on the heels of recommendations from numerous medical groups on Monday including the American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association and the American Hospital Association. Other hospital systems are also making similar moves. Last month a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Houston Methodist over their vaccine mandate.
Dr. Herd said there will be some medical exemptions and religious exemptions. They already have policies in place to address those because employees are required to get a flu shot.
“We have physicians that aren’t even employed physicians, who will refuse to get a flu shot and unfortunately lose their staff privileges,” said Dr. Herd. “We’ve got to make it safe for everybody, even if that upsets a few.”
Baylor Scott & White said system-wide, about 70% of their staff is already vaccinated.
CBS 11 News checked with other hospital systems to see if they are planning something similar.
Parkland Health and Hospital System said they are weighing the idea of mandatory vaccines.
“Parkland leadership believes a vaccine mandate for employees would be beneficial in terms of keeping our staff and patients protected from COVID infection. We are currently having internal discussions regarding this issue and we hope to have a final decision on how to proceed very soon,” said Senior Vice President of Communications Mike Malaise in a written statement.
Medical City, Methodist Health System and Texas Health Resources all said that for the time being, they are just encouraging employees to get the vaccine.