ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Health Resources on Friday became the latest North Texas healthcare system to announce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for all employees.
The Arlington-based company's employees, including all providers, students, vendors and contract workers, must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 10.
Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources, said Friday that about 70% of the company's employees are already fully vaccinated.
“We are taking this proactive step as our community faces increasing cases due in large part to low vaccination rates and the surging delta variant,” Berdan said in a news release. “I encourage all North Texans to get vaccinated and take proactive measures to stay healthy, including wearing a mask.”
Texas Health Resources has more than 23,000 employees and operates 27 hospital facilities across North Texas.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our communities, requiring vaccinations is the responsible step forward," Berdan said. "The vaccine is safe, it works and it’s a step we can take to protect our community. Safety is always our No. 1 priority."
The decision for a vaccine requirement comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rapidly rising across North Texas, a surge that experts attribute to the Delta variant.
The Delta variant has been shown to be more infectious than previous variants of COVID-19, along with bringing more severe symptoms in some cases.
Houston Methodist Hospital in April became the first Texas healthcare system to require all employees to get vaccinated. The requirement was met with a class action lawsuit, but the lawsuit was dismissed.
Rogge Dunn, an employment and business attorney in Dallas, said Texas companies have the right to require vaccinations.
He also said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a regulation that requires employers to make a safe workplace.
"If the employer isn't requiring mandatory vaccinations, they better be observing social distancing, requiring masks, plastic dividers and those types of things, because if they don't, and one employee picks up the phone and calls OSHA, OSHA can be out there investigating and fining that employer," Dunn said.