Vaccination study

Ann Hatchett receives her second COVID-19 vaccination at Baylor Scott & White West Campus in Temple. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Responding to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, two health care companies — including Baylor Scott & White Health — announced that they will now require vaccinations for its employees.

All employees as well as providers, volunteers, vendors, students and contract staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, according to the Baylor Scott & White Health. The change comes as many other organizations, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, issued a vaccination requirement.

Deke Jones, spokesman for Baylor Scott & White, said the highly contagious delta variant and the start of the flu season made now the right time to issue the requirement.

Jones said the medical provider aims to make sure everyone at its facilities is healthy and protected.

“We are committed to making the communities we serve healthier,” Jones said. “Whether you are a patient, family member or employee, you can be assured that we have taken every measure to protect you.”

So far, the health care provider has seen about 71 percent of its company-wide staff get vaccinated, and has continued to offer the vaccines to those who want it.

On Tuesday, the company also implemented new rules for those visiting patients not diagnosed with coronavirus.

The new rules limit the number of people, ages 16 and older, who can visit a patient to one at a time. This has been expanded to two visitors for patients in pediatric or neonatal intensive care units.

Ascension mandate

Other local medical providers have also started requiring vaccinations, including Ascension.

Ascension issued a news release Tuesday, announcing their requirement that all employees need to be vaccinated. The company’s statement said the requirement was for all employees, even if they did not provide direct care or worked virtually.

Employees at the company will have until Nov. 12 to get vaccinated, the same timeline as the provider’s annual influenza vaccination requirement.

“Ascension conducted a thorough moral and ethical analysis as part of the decision-making process,” the company’s statement said. “This decision is rooted in our Mission commitment to leading with quality and safety. As a health care provider and as a Catholic ministry, ensuring we have a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work.”