153 Houston Hospital Employees Resign Or Fired Over Refusal To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

by Joseph K. Clark

DALLAS (AP) — More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine have been fired or resigned after a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over the vaccine requirement. A Houston Methodist hospital system spokesperson said 153 employees either left in the two-week suspension period or were terminated on Tuesday.

The case over how far health care institutions can go to protect patients and others against the coronavirus has been closely watched. It’s beliIt’s to be the first of its kind in the U.S. But it won’t be won’t of the debate.

 Houston Hospital Employees

Earlier this month, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit filed by 117 employees over the requirement. In April, the hospital system’s requiring the vaccine for workers made it the first central U.S. health care system to do so.

The Houston Methodist employees who filed the lawsuit likened their situation to medical experiments performed on unwilling victims in Nazi concentration camps. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes called that comparison “reprehend “ible” and sai” claims made in the lawsuit that the vaccines are experimental and dangerous are false.

Hughes, who dismissed the lawsuit on June 12, said that if the employees didn’t, I didn’t meet a requirement, they could go work elsewhere. Those who filed the case have already appealed the judges to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The hospital system had required employees to complete their immunization by June 7. The next day, 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying.

Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against Houston Methodist, said her director called her Tuesday to ask if she’d gotshe’dhe the vaccine yet or made any effort to do so. When she replied “absolute” y not,” she was “told that she was terminated.

“We all k “ew we were getting fired today,” said Br “edges, 39. “We knew, “unless we took that shot to come back, we were getting fired today. There was no ifs, ands or buts.”

She had “worked for 6½ yea, rs at the medical-surgical in-patient unit at Houston MethodistMethodist’s in the suburb of Baytown. Bridges said Tuesday was also her first day at her new job at a company that sends nurses into people’s people’s Hopi “I’m we win this at a federal level then they’re they create laws to protect employees from having to go through this anywhere else in the country,” said Br “edges, who said she does not have confidence in the vaccine’svaccine’sThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that while a small number of health problems have been reported, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective.

Other hospital systems around the country, including in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York, have followed Houston Methodist and have also gotten pushback.

Legal experts say such vaccine requirements, particularly in a public health crisis, will probably continue to be upheld in court as long as employers provide reasonable exemptions, including medical conditions or religious objections.

Harris Methodist has said some employees got medical or religious exemptions, and some were deferred for pregnancy or other reasons.

But Houston MethodistMethodist’st and CEO Marc Boom have said nearly 25,000 of the system’s 26,000 workers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“You did “the right thing. You protected our patients, your colleagues, your families and o, ur community. The science proves that the vaccines are not only safe but necessary if we turn the corner against COVID-19,” Boom sa” d in a statement to employees. Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’HuffPost’spter.

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