Houston Methodist wants all its employees to be vaccinated by June 7 and is one of the first hospitals to issue a vaccine mandate.
Houston Methodist wants all its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and has stated that those who do not comply will be fired. It has become one of the first major hospital systems in the US to mandate vaccination, reported CBS News. It wants all its employees to be vaccinated by June 7 while managers had an earlier deadline and had to comply by April 15. The hospital system is a network of eight hospitals with almost 26,000 employees. The hospital had rewarded its employees monetarily in March and had indicated at the time that being vaccinated may not be on a voluntary basis for long.
Houston Methodist says it will fire hospital workers who refuse to take COVID vaccine https://t.co/87SN4ns3lV— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) April 22, 2021
"Mandating the vaccine was not a decision we made lightly, but science has proven that the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe and very effective," Dr. Marc Boom, Houston Methodist's president, and CEO addressed the employees in an email. Like I say to everyone who asks—whether they are reporters, the public, patients, or our employees, it is our sacred obligation to do everything possible to keep our patients safe. By choosing to be vaccinated, you are leaders—showing our colleagues in health care what must be done to protect our patients, ourselves, our families, and our communities."
Houston Methodist started with a carrot to ensure all of its 26,000 employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. Now it's using a stick. https://t.co/rWppZK9O64— WNCT (@wnct9) April 26, 2021
About 89% of all employees have been vaccinated so far. But not all the employees are comfortable with the decision of the hospital. During the first phase of vaccination, where 1,200 people got vaccinated, two employees chose to leave. "We are sorry that they made that choice, but by doing so, they are putting themselves before the safety of our patients, which is not consistent with our culture," Boom said. "By getting to 100%, we can show our community and our patients how much we care about them." Other hospitals may follow suit and have their own vaccine mandates as well. The new HR policy of the hospital states that employees unwilling to comply will be suspended, without pay, for two weeks. If they're not vaccinated within that suspension period, the company will "initiate the employee termination process."
The employees upset with the mandate have even launched a petition against it. The Change.org petition read: "Many people feel it is too new and not enough time or research yet to be deemed perfectly safe. We are asking for the public's help. Many employees are scared that they will lose their job or be forced to inject the vaccine into their bodies against their will to keep their jobs and feed their families. We just want the power to choose for ourselves and not take this basic American right away from us." It added, "We give our patients the right to refuse and we are just asking for the same respect!" The petition is looking to get 5,000 signatures.
All U.S. adults are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but you may still have some questions. We’re here to help! Comment below with your questions related to the COVID-19 vaccines. #ama #covid19vaccine pic.twitter.com/E2n6JbckF1— Houston Methodist (@MethodistHosp) April 19, 2021
The fear of the vaccine having side effects was addressed by Boom who said not getting the vaccine would have worse consequences, "Mandating the vaccine was not a decision we made lightly, but science has proven that the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe and very effective." Dr. Dirk Sostman, professor emeritus of radiology at Houston Methodist Weill Cornell Medical College, stated, "All of these vaccines that are approved by the FDA for emergency use in America will keep you out of the hospital, and they will keep you out of the funeral home, and they will do a great job of protecting you from severe illness." Employees were given till May 3 to apply for exemption on a religious or medical basis and will have to be vaccinated before the June deadline.
Baylor College of Medicine and Memorial Hermann Health System are also considering mandatory vaccination for their employees, reported CNN. Unlike Houston Methodist, these institutions have not set a deadline for mandatory vaccination yet. These three institutions all currently require employees to get vaccinated against other infectious diseases, including seasonal flu. The same goes for public and private universities that have made it mandatory for all students to be vaccinated against diseases like mumps and measles. Similarly, colleges like Duke, New York University, and schools within the University of California system, are also mandating vaccines for students to return to campus in the fall.