Two Austin hospitals to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

This week, two major hospital systems in Austin announced they will require all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday, Baylor Scott & White released a statement mandating the vaccine for all employees by Oct. 1, 2021.

"With rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts due to the highly contagious Delta variant and the start of the flu season fast approaching, we believe now is the right time to take the next step in achieving a fully vaccinated workforce," said the statement in part. "By Oct. 1, 2021, all Baylor Scott & White Health employees, providers, volunteers, vendors, students and contract staff must receive both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, unless granted an exemption."

On Tuesday, Ascension Seton made a similar announcement to its employees.

"Like many health systems across the country, including in many of our markets, we are moving to require our associates to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Ascension conducted a thorough moral and ethical analysis as part of the decision-making process. This decision is rooted in our Mission commitment to leading with quality and safety," said the statement in part.

Mayor Steve Adler applauded the decision on Tuesday. "If I went into a hospital right now, I would want to make sure that everybody in that hospital that I was running into on that staff were people that had decided to get vaccinated," he said during an Austin City Council work session.

As of Wednesday, St. David’s HealthCare is strongly encouraging the vaccine but not requiring it among its employees.

In a statement, a spokesperson for St. David’s Healthcare said in part, "St. David’s HealthCare has strongly encouraged COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, physicians and patients and has provided nearly 23,000 vaccinations on a strictly voluntary basis. While colleagues are not required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, our infectious disease experts, as well as those at the CDC, are strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus."

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