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North Texas health care systems initiating mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for employees

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Texas Health Resources announced a mandatory systemwide COVID-19 vaccination policy for all employees July 30, 2021. The policy is a crucial step to fighting the surging delta variant and will protect both patients and caregivers, THR said in a news release.

Similar to the flu vaccine, being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be a condition of employment for all Texas Health employees. To be considered fully vaccinated, either both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single Johnson and Johnson must be administered.

The policy goes into effect on Sept. 10.

“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. “Ultimately requiring vaccines for health care workers aligns with our Mission, our Values, and our commitment to keep patients and each other safe.”

This decision follows that made of a multidisciplinary group of nearly 60 organizations, including the American Hospital Association, American Nursing Association, American Medical Association and Texas Nurses Association, supporting policies that mandate immunizations against preventable diseases.

The group that recommended mandating COVID vaccines for all individuals who work for hospital systems also included pharmacy organizations, as well as public health, epidemiology, oncology, surgery, psychiatric and other specialties. The recommendation cites the need for health care worker vaccination to protect their own health as well as that of patients.

Per the new policy, every employee will need to have received full dose(s) of COVID vaccine Sept. 10. This also applies to physicians and advanced practice providers on the medical staffs, students, vendors and contractors who work at any Texas Health location, THR said in the announcement.

“We are taking this proactive step as our community faces increasing cases due in large part to low vaccination rates and the surging delta variant,” Berdan said. “I encourage all North Texans to get vaccinated and take proactive measures to stay healthy, including wearing a mask.”

Methodist Health System announced July 29 it was mandating that all of its workforce be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1, 2021.

Methodist was the first health system in North Texas to offer vaccines to its workforce, and the majority of its workforce took advantage of that opportunity. Now the remainder of its employees (on-campus and remote workers), physicians on the medical staff (employed and affiliated), volunteers, vendors, students, and contract staff must be vaccinated by October 1.

In an email to approximately 10,000 employees and medical staff this morning, Methodist senior executives explained the decision: “The highly contagious Delta variant is causing another spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in North Texas. We believe the best way to keep our hospitals and communities safe is to achieve a fully vaccinated workforce.”

Once Methodist attains its goal, all full-time employees will receive a $500 bonus. Part-time employees will get $250.

As with the mandated flu vaccine, exemptions will be made on medical or religious grounds. Employees are encouraged to apply for an exemption by September 10 in order to have their exemption reviewed before the October 1 vaccination deadline.

Baylor Scott & White Health has also said their workforce must be vaccinated against COVID-19 within the next two months.

U.S. health officials are expected to release new data about the spread of COVID-19 on Friday that led to their decision to recommend that vaccinated people wear masks in some situations, a reversal of previous guidance.

The report, to be released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, comes from a recent investigation of a coronavirus outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, according to a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the plan.

Earlier this week, the CDC changed its masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling surges in new cases.

Citing new – but unreleased — information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

North Texans can learn more about the vaccines and how to get one:

https://TexasHealth.org/GetYourVaccine

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