Health & Science

Memorial Hermann To Become 3rd Houston Hospital System To Set Vaccine Mandate

Houston Methodist and Baylor College of medicine previously announced mandates.

Memorial Hermann I-10
Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz / Houston Public Media
This file photo from May 2019 shows the Memorial Hermann campus in west Houston, next to I-10.

Memorial Hermann will become the third Houston health system to implement a vaccination mandate for hospital employees.

President and CEO David Callender made the announcement during Wednesday’s Houston Matters, where he said the timeline of implementation will be announced early next week.

“We think it’s very important for health care workers across the country to be vaccinated, as vaccination is really the only way to stop this pandemic,” he said.

A spokesperson for Memorial Hermann could not confirm whether the mandate would apply to all of its affiliates.

Callender said that COVID-19 cases within the health system have jumped since July 3 — increasing from about 100 to more than 430.

The announcement comes after Harris County’s COVID-19 threat level was raised to “orange” last week — indicating indicating significant and uncontrolled spread of the virus — due to the sharp increase of reported cases and hospitalizations across the region.

Health officials warned of an incoming fourth wave of COVID-19 last week, spurred by the hyper-transmissible delta variant and low vaccination rates.

He added that unvaccinated individuals have accounted for almost all of the health system’s hospitalizations since mid-March.

Memorial Hermann joins two other Houston health systems — Houston Methodist and Baylor College of Medicine — that have decided to institute a mandate.

Methodist was the first to implement the policy, which received backlash from dozens of employees who refused to get vaccinated. Many of those employees filed a lawsuit against their employers. A judge ultimately ruled that the hospital had the right to enforce the mandate, and more than 150 employees were fired or resigned.

Baylor College of Medicine later announced it would follow suit, with executive vice president James McDeavitt announcing during a public webinar with the Greater Houston Partnership on Tuesday that the health system would also institute a mandate.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that their medical employees would have eight weeks to get fully vaccinated — the first federal agency to implement such a requirement. That decision impacts Houston’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.