FORT WORTH, Texas — After several hospitals across North Texas put COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place, the deadline for healthcare workers has arrived.
Friday, Oct. 1 was the deadline for medical staff to get vaccinated at several area hospitals, including: Baylor Scott & White Health, Methodist Health System, and Children’s Health. Friday, a spokesperson for Baylor Scott & While Health said 98% of employees were vaccinated.
WFAA reached out to Methodist Health System and Children's Health about the number of employees vaccinated, but had not heard back as of Friday evening.
Dallas hospital council CEO Stephen Love said, by and large, the vaccine mandates led to more frontline workers getting vaccinated.
“On the ones that have mandated, they tell me it’s going very well,” Love said. “They’ve had committees set up that work with any [religious] exemptions requested, and they try to be fair.”
An overwhelming majority of employees at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth complied with the vaccine mandate. Out of more than 8,000 employees, 67 employees resigned and 18 were terminated for refusing the vaccine, according to hospital spokesperson Kim Brown. Cook Children's set a deadline of Sept. 27.
Some hospitals haven’t decided to put a vaccine mandate in place just yet. Wise Health System in Decatur is among them.
Wise Health System CEO Jason Wren wrote a letter to staff, notifying them that a vaccine mandate isn’t in place, yet, but hinted it could come in the future.
Wren’s letter to staff said: “We have chosen not to make any decisions on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate until we have more information and guidance as to what is required, but we will be prepared to comply with whatever requirements are ultimately put in place.”
In September, the Biden-Harris Administration announced plans to enact a vaccine mandate expansion. Once enacted, it would apply to roughly 17 million healthcare workers nationwide.
As potential upcoming deadlines loom, staffing could become an issue.
“If you have health care workers that aren’t vaccinated, and they do in fact get the infection, then they’ve gotta isolate and miss work, so it creates gaps in your workforce,” Love said.
Love added the Dallas Hospital Council is monitoring the upcoming federal vaccine mandate expansion.
“Hospitals always do everything they can to fully comply,” Love said. It’s really what I would all a fluid situation where we’ve just gotta watch it, see what guidance comes down, and see how to react in a constructive way.”