September 22, 2023

No vaccines, no employment!

In the spirit of the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy we have historically seen displayed on many businesses, many employers are making it clear to their vaccine hesitant staff that “no vaccine” can and will equate to “no jobs.”

From hospitals, to airlines and, most recently, to the city of Houston, employers are letting staff know that it is imperative to be vaccinated in order to remain on the roster.

And despite the pushback and lawsuits, businesses are not budging.

The first local hospital system to take a stand was the Houston Methodist system, requiring all of its employees to get vaccinated or face termination.  After that, others followed, including Baylor College of Medicine, recently announcing that faculty and staff were required to be COVID-19 vaccinated by Sept. 15 or face disciplinary action.  Hospital officials said there will be exceptions, however, for certain medical and religious beliefs.

As for those helping us to safely fly the friendly skies, Delta Air Lines will charge employees on the company health plan $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy the airline’s top executive says is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus is costing the airline $40,000.

CEO Ed Bastian said that all employees who have been hospitalized for the virus in recent weeks were not fully vaccinated.

Bastian said that 75% of Delta employees are vaccinated, up from 72% in mid-July. He said the aggressiveness of the leading strain of the virus “means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible.”

The airline also announced that it also will stop extending pay protection to unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19 on Sept. 30 and will require unvaccinated workers to be tested weekly beginning Sept. 12, and employees will have to wear masks in all indoor company settings effective immediately.

United Airlines will require employees to be vaccinated starting Sept. 27 or face termination.

Mayor Sylvester Turner signed this week Executive Order (EO 1-71) COVID-19 Mitigation Safety Measures requiring City of Houston employees to test for the COVID-19 virus twice monthly unless they have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

The announcement follows the recent deaths of two City employees from complications linked to the virus.  The requirement becomes effective October 8. Employees must report testing results to the City of Houston Office of Human Resources on the 1st and 15th of each month.

“I cannot stand by and watch employees continue to get sick, and in some cases die, from a disease that we know how to manage. The virus is having an impact on our workforce and the City’s ability to provide services directly to the public,” said Mayor Turner. “Overall, the City continues to see hundreds of new COVID-19 patients being admitted to the hospitals in the Texas Medical Center each day. While there are breakthrough cases, full vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19 and its variants, like Delta.  The vaccine protects our first responders, our emergency care workers, and the hospital system as a whole.”

As of September 7, a total of 342 City of Houston employees have reported testing positive for the virus. Houston continues to have uncontrolled COVID-19 spread, much like the rest of the county. COVID-19 cases in Houston and Harris County have surged since mid-July, in large part due to the more contagious Delta variant. Houston’s 14-day average positivity rate is now at 19.3%.

Employees who do not comply with the new requirements may face corrective action up to and including termination or indefinite suspension.

Simply stated, employers are making it plain and clear. Don’t want to get the vaccine? Find somewhere else to work. You decide.

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