TEMPLE, Texas — Two major hospital systems in Central Texas are now requiring all of their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to news releases sent this week.
Baylor Scott & White Health said in a prepared statement to 6 News that all employees, providers, volunteers, vendors and staff must have received the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Oct. 1, unless granted an exemption.
Baylor Scott & White Health said the requirement is due to the increasing cases of COVID-19 and the highly contagious Delta variant.
"The Delta variant is the most contagious and dangerous strain we have seen to date, leading to exponentially increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization. The overwhelming majority of these cases are among the unvaccinated," the release said.
"We are committed to making the communities we serve healthier. Whether you are a patient, family member or employee, you can be assured that we have taken every measure to protect you," the release said.
Baylor Scott & White Health said employees who are non-compliant and do not have an approved exemption would be fired.
Ascension established a similar requirement on Tuesday but gave everyone until Nov. 12 to get the vaccine.
"This decision is rooted in our Mission commitment to leading with quality and safety," the news release said. "As a healthcare provider and as a Catholic ministry, ensuring we have a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work."
Seton Medical Center Harker Heights said it is not requiring its employees to get the shot, but strongly encourages it.
"The safety of our patients and staff is our highest priority. As caregivers, we strongly encourage employees and members of the communities we serve to get immunized, particularly in light of the COVID-19 Delta variant which is being called by some a 'pandemic of the unvaccinated,'" the hospital said in a statement. "We have considered current rates of COVID-19 cases, along with other federal guidance and market conditions, and are currently giving our employees the choice to be vaccinated."