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Texas hospital system first to require all employees get COVID-19 vaccine

Texas hospital system first to require all employees get COVID-19 vaccine
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A Texas hospital system is the first in the nation to issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff.

Houston Methodist hospital system, which includes a medical center and six community hospitals, has alerted its staff that they have until June 7 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Managerial staff were required to meet an earlier deadline of April 15.

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Should staff refuse, they risk getting fired. 

The hospital center previously stated that the vaccine was optional for staff, but offered $500 bonuses to those who opted to do so. It later moved to a non-voluntary policy.

At least two of the complex's 1,200 workers who hold managerial positions opted to leave over the mandate. As of Friday, 89 percent of employees had complied, however. 

The news from the Texas hospital system comes after the nation experienced hesitancy among frontline health care workers to get vaccinated. 

Earlier in the year, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York City moving thousands of people from hotels back to shelters Bank of America: All vaccinated workers to return to office after Labor Day US Open allowing 100 percent spectator capacity at matches MORE (D) stated that 40 percent of hospital staff had yet to be vaccinated despite their prioritization to get the shot. 

According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in January, about 30 percent of health care workers said that they would not get vaccinated. 

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"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, told 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," he added.

"As health care workers we must do everything possible to keep our patients safe and at the center of everything we do," Boom told his staff about why he made the decision to implement the vaccine policy.

Boom noted that two other Texas hospitals — Memorial Hermann and Baylor College of Medicine — will implement a similar policy.

--Updated on April 27 at 5:45 a.m.