Texas Children's Hospital to require COVID-19 vaccine for employees

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Children's Hospital will be the latest health system to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for its workforce.

The pediatric hospital made the announcement Wednesday morning, saying that with the recent surge of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant and the unusually high number of patients diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), "bold action is needed."

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"We recognize the profound and encouraging truth that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is safe, effective and the primary mechanism to combat this pandemic," said Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children's. "By taking this step, we are further protecting the health of our team members, patients and community. As one of the nation's largest and top-rated children's hospitals, it is our responsibility to take a stand and protect those who place their trust in us, many of whom are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. We look forward to the FDA fully authorizing the COVID-19 vaccines in the near future."

In a message, Wallace explained that the Texas Children's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force recommended last month that the hospital require the shot for all employees, physicians, contractors and volunteers.

On Tuesday morning, the Texas Children's Board of Trustees was called to review the recommendation and decide how to move forward.

"This is not a decision we took lightly. It has been weeks of research, keeping a close eye on the curve and numerous discussions about what is best for our entire organization," Wallace said. "Ultimately with the surge in positive cases-with most deaths and hospitalizations being among the unvaccinated population-I, along with the Board of Trustees, remain confident that this is the right decision."

All workforce members, including full-time employees, part-time employees, medical staff, per diem employees and contractors must receive their first vaccine dose by 5 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2021.

If receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the second dose must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19, 2021.

There are exemptions, the hospital says, but only for certain religious beliefs or medical conditions.

Currently, Texas Children's is holding Pfizer's phase II/III trials as the push continues to get children under 12 vaccinated as soon as it's allowed.
According to the hospital, Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine for children ages 5-11 could be weeks away following the FDA's review of the trial data.

Texas Children's is just the latest hospital in the Houston area to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this month, the Memorial Hermann system announced that it would be implementing the vaccination requirement for all of its employees. It also cited the current status of the pandemic and the delta variant, which "shows no mercy on unvaccinated individuals."

Houston Methodist Hospital also mandated the COVID-19 vaccine, which at the time received pushback from some workers.

In June, a total of 153 employees either resigned or had been fired because they refused to get the vaccine.

In a statement at the time from the hospital, Methodist said a total of 24,947 employees complied and are fully vaccinated.
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