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As the country realizes power over the coronavirus through confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, employers have a difficult decision to make about mandatory vaccinations. Employers at medical facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes require their staff members to be vaccinated.
Given the sharp division in the United States regarding the vaccination’s efficacy, it is not surprising over 100 employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system filed a lawsuit against such a mandate. On June 12, 2021, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes dismissed their case.
Hughes said the plaintiffs were not being forced to get vaccinated illegally. The justice found in favor of Houston Methodist — the first hospital system to order its employees to obtain the vaccinations. The Hill indicates the plaintiff will appeal the judge’s decision.
The health care systems and academic medical centers, over 250 locations in Texas, gave their employees until June 7 to obtain vaccinations or face being discharged from their job.
Notably, Houston Medical was one of the first health care systems in the United States to insist on the staff receiving flu vaccines beginning in 2009.
Jennifer Bridges, a nurse at the Houston Methodist Baytown facility, left her job in defiance of the vaccination mandate on Monday, June 7. Bridges in among several workers who refuse to be vaccinated.
In April, Houston Methodist President and CEO Mark Boom announced that employees who refused vaccinations by the deadline would receive a 14-day suspension without pay. Should they not be vaccinated during those two weeks, they would be terminated. There was an exemption allowance for workers with medical or religious reasons for non-compliance.
Boom added, deciding that making vaccinations mandatory was not made lightly. “Because science has proven that the COVID-19 vaccines are not only safe but extremely effective, it became an easier decision to make.”
More than 80 percent of the system’s 26,000 employees had already been vaccinated at the time.
By the deadline, virtually all of the workers at Houston Methodist had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bridges, employed with the health system for six years, did not agree with Boom and company leaders. Her petition on Change.org amassed almost 9,000 signatures. She declares the vaccinations should not be forced if a person is uncomfortable about the shot.
She and 116 others filed a lawsuit asserting the hospital should not be allowed to force its employees to obtain vaccinations and doing so violated federal law. The plaintiffs further claimed Houston Medical wanted them to be human guinea pigs as a requirement for continued employment. They insist they should not have to participate in a vaccine trial.
In Judge Hughes’ five-page order on June 12, she debunked the plaintiff’s assertions. She seemed specifically perturbed over them equating the vaccination mandate to forced experimentation during the Holocaust:
Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible. Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Hill: Judge dismisses staff lawsuit over Houston Methodist vaccine mandate; by Jordan Williams
Houston Chronicle: Grieder: Houston Methodist is right to take a clear stance on COVID-19 vaccines for employees; by Erica Grieder
Featured and Top Image by TMHJPL Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Lisa Ferdinando Courtesy of US Secretary of Defense’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License