Baylor Scott & White Health is requiring its staff and other workers in its hospital to be vaccinated as the COVID-19 delta variant cases continue to increase.
Starting Oct. 1, Baylor Scott & White Health employees, providers, volunteers, vendors, students and contract staff must have to be vaccinated unless granted an exemption.
Baylor Scott & White said this is due to “rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts due to the highly contagious delta variant and the start of the flu season fast approaching.” It added “now is the right time to take the next step in achieving a fully vaccinated workforce.”
“Whether you are a patient, family member or employee, you can be assured that we have taken every measure to protect you,” Baylor Scott & White said in a statement.
The American Hospital Association estimates nearly 800 other hospitals and medical systems have issued vaccine mandates for employees across the nation.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of healthcare organizations, entities, places of employment take the approach of saying it is time,” said Dallas County Medical Society Dr. Mark Casanova.
“I suspect many hospitals are on the brink of making this decision and making this call,” he said. “I think as has been the case with many aspects about COVID over the last year and a half, the situation on the ground defines our action.”
FOX 4 asked Baylor Scott & White what percentage of employees aren’t vaccinated. The company did not respond to our request but in a letter to employees, it said “a majority” were already vaccinated.
Baylor is not the first in Texas to require vaccines.
Last month, the Houston Methodist System made headlines after employees challenged its June 7 deadline to get a vaccine. There were protests outside the Baytown location, and about 120 employees filed a federal lawsuit. A judge threw it out. Afterward, more than 150 employees were either fired or resigned.
In North Texas, Parkland Hospital confirmed it is considering making vaccinations mandatory. It released a statement saying, “We are currently having internal discussions regarding this issue, and we hope to have a final decision on how to proceed very soon.”
Methodist Dallas and UT Southwestern said they hadn’t yet made a decision.
Dr. Casanova says hospitals wanted to give employees time before adding the COVID-19 vaccine to many more vaccines that are already required for employment. He says now, time is not on their side.
“The situation on the ground is quite concerning,” he said. “So for those smaller percentages of the remaining health care workforce, we have yet to be vaccinated. It’s our duty to serve them and their duty to serve themselves and protect the patients.”