The Houston Methodist Hospital System was the first US hospital to mandate hospital staff Covid vaccinations. Now the hospital has stepped up its efforts. Hospital staff who do not begin the vaccination series by June 7 will be fired.
The Houston Methodist Hospital System made national news for being the first to require its staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The response was a mixed bag of support and public pushback. While many understand the benefit of vaccinated healthcare workers in a hospital setting, others felt uncomfortable with an employer mandate.
CEO Dr. Marc Bloom hopes to create the safest environment as possible for patient care. Increasing the number of vaccinated workers reduces the risk of spreading the infection from health providers to patients.
Hospital staff vaccinations create a safe environment for patient care. He stated, “When we choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19, we are prioritizing safety by helping stop the spread of this deadly virus and keeping our patients, visitors, and colleagues safe.”
Mandatory vaccination is a bold move but one backed by scientific evidence. A CDC report showed the messenger RNA vaccines are 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers and first responders.
The CDC published updated information on vaccination’s safety and efficacy in healthcare workers in the March 29th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This update analyzed Covid-19 vaccines in a real-world setting. The findings showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections among healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential frontline workers.
So far, 89% of the hospital employees are vaccinated. The Houston hospital gave out $500 bonuses to those who received their Covid-19 vaccines. Hospital administrators were required to begin the vaccine process in the middle of April.
The hospital is following the influenza vaccine policy it implemented in 2009. On June 7, unvaccinated employees will be placed on a two-week suspension giving them time to begin the vaccination process. Like other required hospital vaccinations, employees will not be permitted to return to work unless they are vaccinated. The hospital considers employee vaccinations to be a patient-safety issue.
The CDC recommends vaccinations for healthcare workers include physicians, nurses, emergency medical personnel, dental professionals and students, medical and nursing students, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, hospital volunteers, and administrative staff.
These vaccinations currently include Hepatitis B, Influenza, MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), Varicella, and Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis). Most hospitals also require annual tuberculosis risk assessments. These recommendations are in place to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. Healthcare worker vaccinations protect hospital staff exposed to infectious disease and reduce the risk of a healthcare worker transmitting an infection to a hospitalized patient.
The Houston Methodist system may be the first hospital to require vaccination, but others are considering their options. Texas Herman Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine are evaluating the options.
Some have questioned the legality of a private company mandating Covid-19 vaccination for employees. A recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance indicates employers may require vaccination.
On Monday, March 29, 2021, everyone aged 16 and older was now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.
There are three FDA-approved vaccines for Covid-19. The two messenger RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer offer 95% protection against Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA). A single strand of mRNA delivers instructions to human cells to produce an antibody against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine offers 72% protection against infection and 86% against severe disease. The Janssen vaccine uses Adenovirus 26 (AD26) as the vector to deliver DNA material into our cells to provoke an immune response.
The FDA resumed administration of the Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine after a temporary pause to study the risk of rare but severe blood clots in a small number of cases. The FDA has determined “that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.”
The Moderna and Janssen vaccines are approved for those 18 years old and up. The Pfizer vaccine is approved starting at age 16.
All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing death.