The Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas has a deadline for its employees. 

By June 7, they need to get a COVID-19 vaccine or they could be fired. 

A spokesperson for the hospital told Healthline that the Houston Methodist is the first major health system in the country to require a COVID-19 vaccine and that the mandate affects all 26,000 employees of all Houston Methodist’s hospitals and outpatient clinics. 

In emails and statements sent to employees, Dr. Marc L. Boom, Houston Methodist’s president and CEO, wrote: “As healthcare workers we must do everything possible to keep our patients safe.”

The spokesperson further clarified that employees can apply for a medical or religious exemption and that so far, 89 percent of the workers have complied. When managers were given the April 15 deadline, two resigned. 

What about other hospitals?

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows that 48 percent of healthcare workers on the frontlines were still not vaccinated.  

“It’s very disappointing that healthcare workers do not have a 100 percent uptake of the vaccine,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, FIDSA, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

“One thing hospitals may be considering is if they make it mandatory, staff might quit because there is a high level of vaccine hesitancy in certain geographic areas,” he told Healthline. “I suspect more hospitals may make it mandatory once full FDA (Food and Drug Administration) licensure occurs.”

Nancy Foster, the vice president of the American Hospital Association, said that most of their member hospitals are encouraging the workers to get their COVID-19 vaccines but they are hesitant to make them mandatory while the vaccines remain under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.

“What we’re hearing from most of our members is that they will likely make a determination of the COVID-19 vaccine for their workers based on safety and efficacy data available at the time the vaccines receive full approval from the FDA, which hasn’t happened yet,” she told Healthline in a statement.

Colleges might require vaccinations

A good number of colleges and universities also require COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester or are considering it. 

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, so far more than 80 colleges have issued vaccine mandates. 

But some of the colleges are making the policy contingent on the vaccines getting full FDA approval.

One is the University of Southern California who announced that by June 1, faculty, students and staff who whill be on campus are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

But also says that as long as the vaccines are not fully approved by the FDA, they can file a “personal declination form.”

The mandates could result in millions of college-age adults getting vaccinated.

“Colleges have seen themselves become completely disrupted by the spread of the virus on campus. The vaccine is the best way to prevent that from happening,” said Adalja.

“If in-person learning, college sports, and extracurricular activities are to return to normalcy, the more vaccinated the student population, the easier it will be,” he added.