Texas Health Resources is joining other Texas hospital groups in making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all employees and, like the flu vaccine, a condition of employment.
The policy goes into effect on Sept. 10 and all employees, including physicians and advanced practice providers on the medical staff, students, vendors, and contractors who work at any Texas Health location, will need to have received full doses by that date.
"As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our communities, requiring vaccinations is the responsible step forward. The vaccine is safe, it works and it's a step we can take to protect our community. Safety is always our No. 1 priority," said Barclay Berdan, FACHE, Texas Health CEO. "I encourage all North Texans to get vaccinated and take proactive measures to stay healthy, including wearing a mask."
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In a statement Friday, THR said "the policy is a crucial step to fighting the surging delta variant and will protect both patients and caregivers."
Earlier this summer, more than 150 employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system 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.