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Children's Health, Cook Children's announce vaccine requirement for employees, following move by other medical systems

All Children's Health employees will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. All Cook Children's employees will need to be vaccinated by Sept. 27.

DALLAS — Children’s Health and Cook Children's have become the latest health systems that will require its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Both medical groups made their announcements, Wednesday. 

"As COVID-19 cases rapidly increase in the community, we believe now is the right time to take the next step in ensuring our patients and team members have the greatest protection against COVID-19," Children's Health said. "We believe it is our ethical duty to protect them and the nearly 70 percent of our patients who are younger than 12 years old and ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”  

The vaccine requirement for Children's Health will apply to team members, providers, volunteers, students/trainees, as well as vendors and contractors. All employees there will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The health group said, to date, more than 80% of its team members are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Cook Children's Health Care System said all of its more than 8,000 employees will need to be vaccinated even earlier - by noon on Sept. 27.

"Given how close we are to critically-ill children, we know this is the right decision for our system and ultimately our patients," explained the system's president and CEO Rick W. Merrill, adding that the number of COVID cases among Cook Children's has "increased dramatically" over the past few weeks. 

According to the medical system, there are currently 24 children being treated for COVID-19, and the rate of positive cases seen across the health care system over the past week is now 11.3%. On June 2, that rate was 1%.    

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The announcements come just days after several other major health groups - including Baylor, Scott & White, Methodist Health System and Texas Health Resources - also announced vaccine requirements for their employees.

Across North Texas, coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to rise in the region, driven, in part, by the highly contagious delta COVID variant. According to the latest CDC data, all of North Texas is now considered to be an area of "high transmission" for COVID, meaning virus cases have surpassed 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days, or the positivity rate will have exceeded 10%.