Ascension Saint Thomas will require all employees to take the COVID vaccine following a corporate announcement on Tuesday.
“Ascension conducted a thorough moral and ethical analysis as part of the decision-making process,” the country’s largest Catholic hospital system says in a statement. “As a healthcare provider and as a Catholic ministry, ensuring we have a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work.”
Employees must be vaccinated or have an exemption approved by Nov. 12, which is roughly when hospital staff have to have their flu vaccine each year.
The announcement comes in a week when a critical mass of hospitals have announced mandates. Many had held off, even once a Texas hospital received a favorable case dismissal last month, partly for competitive concerns since unvaccinated staff could just leave for a competing hospital.
But, this week, the VA announced a mandate, as did the states of California and New York. In Nashville, Vanderbilt University Medical Center internally announced a requirement for leaders to take the vaccine on July 15, though it only became public this week. The entire workforce is expected to face a mandate too, with 72% currently vaccinated.
However, the country’s largest hospital chain is still holding off. Nashville-based HCA has not mandated vaccination, though its local hospitals in Nashville say in a statement that they are following all federal guidance.
“Our colleagues are not required to be vaccinated for COVID-19,” spokesperson Anna-Lee Cockrill says in an email. “But we highly encourage our employees and the public to consider vaccination to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.”