NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York-Presbyterian hospital system will require all of its 48,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a valid exemption, hospital officials announced Friday.

“As a leading health care organization, we believe it is essential to require vaccinations to protect our patients and ourselves against the threat of further harm from the pandemic and the possibility of more dangerous mutations,” Dr. Steven Corwin and Dr. Laura Forese, the president and executive vice president of the 10-campus hospital network, said in an email to staff.

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Employees will be required to receive their first vaccine dose by Sept. 1, the officials said, with applications for medical or religious exemptions due Aug. 1.

About 70% of the network’s employees are already vaccinated, a spokesperson said.

COVID VACCINE

New York-Presbyterian appears to be the first health care network in New York to mandate vaccinations for staff.

Kenneth Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said he supports the requirement.

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Raske said in a statement that every health care organization wants a fully vaccinated work force, “and some may choose to emulate the mandatory approach.”

New York-Presbyterian’s decision to require vaccinations comes as other hospital systems around the country are moving to impose vaccine requirements.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The Houston Methodist system suspended 178 employees this week for refusing to abide by its mask mandate.

Houston Methodist’s president, Dr. Marc Boom, said in a statement that he wished the number of staff members declining vaccinations without a valid exemption were zero, “but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first.”

NYC Health + Hospitals said it will continue to offer COVID vaccines to employees, but not mandate it.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSNewYork Team