Methodist Health System on Thursday became the lastest North Texas health care provider to require its workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1.
The mandate to get the vaccine in the next two months applies to on-campus and remote workers, both employed and affiliated physicians, volunteers, vendors, students and contract staff.
"The highly contagious delta variant is causing another spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in North Texas," Methodist senior executives explained in an email to about 10,000 employees Thursday morning. "We believe the best way to keep our hospitals and communities safe is to achieve a fully vaccinated workforce."
Baylor Scott & White Health issued the same requirement to its nearly 50,000 employees on Wednesday.
Methodist Health System said it was the first health system in North Texas to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to employees, many of whom received the shot at the time.
All full-time employees will receive a $500 bonus and all part-time employees will get a $250 bonus once the health system reaches its goal.
Methodist Health System primarily operates facilities in North Texas and has locations in Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and Tyler.
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Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas said it was weighing to issue a similar requirement.
"Parkland leadership believes a vaccine mandate for employees would be beneficial in terms of keeping our staff and patients protected from COVID infection," said Mike Malaise, senior vice president of communications and external relations. "We are currently having internal discussions regarding this issue and we hope to have a final decision on how to proceed very soon."
Earlier this summer, more than 150 Houston Methodist hospital system employees who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine were fired or resigned after a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over their vaccine requirement.
In a scathing ruling, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes deemed lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges' contention that the vaccines are "experimental and dangerous" are false and she dismissed the suit adding that if the employees didn't like the requirement, they could go work elsewhere.
"Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else. If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker's behavior in exchange for remuneration. That is all part of the bargain," Hughes concluded.
Houston Methodist required employees to complete their immunization by June 7. The next day, 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying.