‘Condition of employment’: Hospitals in DC, across the nation follow Houston Methodist in requiring vaccination for workers
Most hospitals in Washington, D.C., will require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, joining a growing number of health care systems and other businesses nationwide in opting for the controversial mandate.
The hospitals will each set a date after which vaccination will be a condition of employment, the District of Columbia Hospital Association said in a statement Tuesday. The hospitals will comply with all federal and district laws regarding exemptions for medical or religious reasons, the statement said.
“The District of Columbia is blessed with a hospital workforce of over 30,000 individuals that provided and continue to provide compassionate and quality care throughout the pandemic,” Jacqueline Bowens, president and CEO of the District of Columbia Hospital Association, said. “This consensus is a reiteration of our hospitals’ commitment to safety by keeping our staff, patients and visitors protected against COVID-19.”
About 70% of D.C. hospital employees have been fully vaccinated, 52.3% of District residents are partially or fully vaccinated, and 42.3% of DC residents are fully vaccinated, the association said.
Vaccine hesitancy has slowed progress in President Joe Biden’s bid to have 70% of the adult U.S. population at least partially vaccinated by July 4. Some health care systems and other businesses are trying to reawaken vaccination momentum.
178 health care workers suspended from Houston Methodist hospital system
Scores of workers at a Texas hospital system were suspended this week and face dismissal for refusing the COVID-19 vaccination. Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom said, however, that the 178 workers represent less than 1% of almost 25,000 employees. CEO Marc Boom said that a “small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first.”
At least three large hospital systems are requiring vaccination by September. Indiana University Health announced last week that it would require its 36,000 employees to be vaccinated: “Requiring vaccinations for healthcare employees is not new or unprecedented,” health system officials said in a statement.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System will require all 44,000 employees and clinical staff to be vaccinated. Almost 70% are already vaccinated, the hospital system said. And the University of Maryland Medical System announced the requirement Tuesday for its 29,000 employees.
IU Health to require COVID-19 vaccines for employees
Hundreds of colleges and universities are requiring vaccinations, as are many nursing homes – hot spots in the early days of the pandemic. And the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidance saying employers have the right to require COVID-19 vaccination.
But the requirement can be controversial. Dozens of health care workers in Houston protested outside Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital this week, and last month more than 100 employees filed suit claiming the vaccines are “experimental” and the requirement unfair.
The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for the vaccines, but has not yet granted full approval.
Jennifer Bridges, a nurse at the center of the lawsuit, told KHOU-TV in Houston this week that she he has no regrets and is willing to take the battle all the way to the Supreme Court.
“If I have to eat ramen noodles for two months, I don’t care,” Bridges aid. “My health, my family is more important than money and this job.”
Protesters wave signs at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital in Baytown, Texas, on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, AP)
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