HOUSTON — Texas Children's is the latest Houston hospital to require its employees to get the coronavirus vaccine, setting a September date as the deadline to get the first shot.
Note: the video in this story is from a July 2021 broadcast — "Texas Children's sees uptick in COVID-19 cases, offers advice to parents ahead of school"
"Given our position and moral responsibility to uphold our mission and protect our patients and their families, our colleagues, and our collective communities, the Board of Trustees and I have unanimously voted that Texas Children’s will require the COVID-19 vaccine unless an exemption form has been submitted and approved," stated Texas Children's President Mark Wallace in a letter early Wednesday.
"Now is the time for every single Texas Children’s employee to lead, and this is a monumental moment where we can choose to lead by example."
The hospital is allowing for some exemptions. Those who do not qualify for an exemption will have until Sept. 21 to get the first shot and Oct. 19 to be fully vaccinated.
Texas Children's said the new vaccine requirement comes because of "another surge of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, along with a highly unusual summer surge of patients diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)," adding that "bold action is needed."
Also watch: More than 300 COVID-19 patients being admitted to Texas Medical Center hospitals every day (Aug. 9 report)
Letter from Texas Children's president/CEO to hospital staff
From the very beginning of the pandemic, Texas Children’s has led the way with our response to COVID-19. We swiftly took action by creating the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, we implemented and adapted to numerous safety protocols, and we were among the first to test for the virus and administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
I couldn’t be more proud of all of you for the strength and perseverance you’ve shown throughout the last 16 months. As One Amazing Team, we have banded together to face every obstacle and overcome every phase of the pandemic. As we face the current rise of highly contagious variants, it is now time for us to take the next step together.
Last month, the Texas Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force made a recommendation that we require the COVID-19 vaccine for all Texas Children’s employees, physicians, contractors, and volunteers. Yesterday morning, a special meeting of the Texas Children’s Board of Trustees was called to review the recommendation and decide how to move forward.
Given our position and moral responsibility to uphold our mission and protect our patients and their families, our colleagues, and our collective communities, the Board of Trustees and I have unanimously voted that Texas Children’s will require the COVID-19 vaccine unless an exemption form has been submitted and approved.
At Texas Children’s, everyone is a leader, and that means everyone. Now is the time for every single Texas Children’s employee to lead, and this is a monumental moment where we can choose to lead by example. As one of the nation’s largest and top-rated children’s hospitals, we must take a stand and protect those who place their trust in us.
If you are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, you must receive the first dose by September 21, 2021 and be fully vaccinated by October 19, 2021—or if you believe you qualify for an exemption, you must submit an immunization exemption request by September 1, 2021 in order to maintain your employment at Texas Children’s.
This is not a decision we took lightly. It has been weeks of research, keeping a close eye on the curve and numerous discussions about what is best for our entire organization. Ultimately with the surge in positive cases—with most deaths and hospitalizations being among the unvaccinated population—I, along with the Board of Trustees, remain confident that this is the right decision.
I’ve shared with you time and time again that I firmly believe these vaccines are safe and highly effective. I understand the hesitancy from those who wish to wait until the vaccines are FDA approved, and I’m pleased to report that we expect FDA approval for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines within the next couple of months. For Texas Children’s, the time is now to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
I look forward to all of us at Texas Children’s taking initiative, being vaccinated and remaining the reason families from all over the world choose us to care for children and women. I am profoundly grateful for your leadership and commitment to Texas Children’s and appreciate your dedication as we usher in the next season together. Leadership is never easy, but we have always done the right thing—and this will be no exception.
Mark A. Wallace