A hospital in Houston is mandating vaccines for all its staff, saying they could be fired if they refuse to get the jab without having reasonable exemptions.
This could make it the first large hospital in the US to make the move, a spokesperson for the hospital told.
Marc Boom, CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital, announced the policy in an email to managers Wednesday.
It is rolling out the policy to managers and new hires first, before expanding it to the hospital’s roughly 26,000 total workforces, per an FAQ sheet attached to the email.
“As part of Houston Methodist management, we must lead by example and get vaccinated ourselves,” Boom wrote in the email, seen by Insider.
He said that around 83% of employees have already been vaccinated, including 95% of management staff and all the company’s executives.
“As we move closer to announcing mandatory vaccinations for all employees, we need you to go first — to lead by example and show our employees how important getting vaccinated is,” Boom told managers.
He said that managers have until April 15 to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“If not, we will follow HR policy on non-compliance,” he added.
The FAQ sheet said that staff would lose their jobs if they didn’t get the job, but that the hospital would allow religious and medical exemptions “in very rare cases.”
“We don’t know yet if a booster [shot] will be required annually but if it is, that will also be mandatory,” the hospital wrote in the FAQ sheet.
Boom said that managers would soon receive a list of all the employees they manage who haven’t yet received a dose of the vaccine.
Staff vaccine mandates are legal, and CEOs are eyeing them up
As the vaccine rollout ramps up across the US, with President Joe Biden eyeing May 1 as the day all US adults will become eligible for the shot, some employers are mulling making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for staff.
Houston Methodist Hospital said it is legal for private companies under state and federal employment laws.
This is backed up by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which says employers can legally require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or ban them from the office if they don’t. Insider spoke to six labor and employment lawyers about what rights employees have.
In a West Munroe poll of 150 C-Suite executives in January, 51% of executives said they would require employees to receive the vaccine before returning to work. Executives from East and West Coast companies said they were more likely to mandate the vaccine than employers in the Midwest and south.
Some top UK firms also plan to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for staff through “no jab, no job” employment contracts, Insider’s Kate Duffy reported.