Along with other Ascension facilities in its multistate network, Ascension St. John Medical Center in Tulsa will require its employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, the first major hospital system in Tulsa to do so.
"This decision is rooted in our Mission commitment to leading with quality and safety," Ascension said in a Tuesday news release. "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."
Staff will be required to receive the vaccinations whether or not they provide direct patient care, and whether or not they work exclusively remotely, Ascension said. They will have until Nov. 12 to be vaccinated or to request an exception for a medical condition that prevents them from receiving the vaccine or a "strongly held religious belief."
Several hospital systems in Oklahoma City, including OU Health and SSM, have announced vaccination requirements. Dr. Lance Frye, Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner, said earlier this month that he would not endorse or oppose hospitals requiring their staff be vaccinated, but that he personally did not view it much differently than their requiring staff receive flu shots, a common requirement.
Tulsa's Saint Francis Health System and Hillcrest HealthCare System do not currently require staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Several state Republican lawmakers have sought to create legislation or have Gov. Kevin Stitt issue an executive order banning hospitals from requiring their employees be vaccinated.