(KWTX) – Baylor Scott & White Health has notified all of its employees, vendors and contractors they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1 because of an increase in infections, fueled in part by the more virulent Delta variant of the virus.
“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 health system said in a statement to KWTX.
The Dallas Morning News first reported the vaccine mandate Wednesday for the health system, which has more than 40,000 full-time employees.
In a message to employees obtained by KWTX, Baylor Scott & White says while “the majority of our team member s are vaccinated today,” those who aren’t have until Oct. 1 to get both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The mandate applies to employees, providers on the medical staff, both employed and affiliated, volunteers, vendors, students, and contract staff.
“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,” the message said.
On Monday, Baylor Scott & White announced it was rescheduling elective procedures at Scott & White Medical Center in Temple “to continue ensuring our hospitals are ready for those who need care most during this time.”
Bell County has a growing number of active cases of the virus and a rising number of hospitalizations.
Just more than 33% of the county’s residents 12 and older have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
More than 52% of residents 12 and older statewide are fully vaccinated.
Most of the patients Baylor Scott & White is now treating for COVID-19 are younger than 50 and unvaccinated.
Ascension, whose facilities include the Providence Healthcare Network in Waco, says employees have until Nov. 12 to meet the vaccination requirement.
“Ascension will require that all associates be vaccinated against COVID-19, whether or not they provide direct patient care, and whether they work in our sites of care or remotely. This includes associates employed by subsidiaries and partners; physicians and advanced practice providers, whether employed or independent; and volunteers and vendors entering Ascension facilities.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday announced that it is requiring its healthcare workers to get vaccinated against the virus including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants and others who provide direct care or work in departmental facilities.
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