In a staff memo sent Wednesday afternoon, employees at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and its fundraising affiliate ALSAC, were made aware of the requirement and were given a September 9 deadline to get vaccinated. .
“By September 10, employees who have refused vaccination or who do not have an approved medical or religious exemption will be placed on administrative leave without pay for two weeks,” wrote Dr. James R. Downing, president. -director general of Memphis hospital.
“During this time, they have the opportunity to start the vaccination process,” he added. “Those who do not start the vaccination process will be fired at the end of the two week period. “
Downing noted the rapid spread of the delta variant, which he says is now responsible for two-thirds of all COVID-19 cases in Memphis and Shelby County. He also expressed concern about the recent increase in cases in the region and the potential for a corresponding increase in hospitalizations.
“Hundreds of millions of people around the world have safely received the COVID-19 vaccine,” Downing wrote. “The benefits far outweigh the risks. “
In a statement to ABC News, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said the decision to impose the vaccines was made “after much research, analysis and discussion.”
“It’s the right thing to do to keep our campus safe,” the hospital added. “Our duty to our patients frames everything we do. This is the next logical step in making sure we stay ahead of the virus. “
The statement added that the ALSAC and the hospital share a campus and thus jointly implement the policy.
St. Jude has more than 3,600 employees, according to its website. The Memphis Business Journal reported that the ALSAC has some 1,240 local employees.
The hospital is the latest in a series of employers -om school districts to airliners – who have announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates as workplaces begin to reopen.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers can legally require COVID-19 vaccinations to re-enter a physical workplace, provided they meet the requirements to find alternative arrangements for incapacitated employees to get vaccinated for medical reasons or because they have religious objections.
Yet many employers have faced legal challenges and pushbacks from workers who refuse the blow.
More than 175 staff at the Houston Methodist Hospital were temporarily suspended without pay last month for breach of a warrant, and legal action has been taken against the hospital. A Texas judge sided with the hospital, dismissing a complaint filed by 117 employees who opposed the injection. Workplace vaccine requirements lawsuits have also been filed against a school district in California and a sheriff’s office in North Carolina.
Some 53% of people 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine in Tennessee, and 47.2% are fully vaccinated, according to data released Friday.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 67.8% of the population over 18 has received at least one dose and 59.1% are fully immunized. The public health agency has said COVID-19 vaccines are “safe and effective,” as lawmakers and more urge more Americans to get vaccinated.
“Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines since they were cleared for emergency use by the FDA,” the CDC said. “These vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety surveillance in US history. “
ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Marlene Lenthang contributed to this report.