Houston Hospital Workers Fired, Resign over Vaccination Refusal

US
A healthcare worker prepares the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in El Paso, Texas, May 6, 2021. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

Houston Methodist hospital system has fired or accepted the resignation of 153 workers who refused to take a coronavirus vaccine.

The hospital system announced on April 1 that employees would have to get vaccinated in order to retain their jobs, becoming one of the first health care providers in the U.S. to mandate employee vaccinations.

Houston Methodist suspended 178 workers who did not receive a vaccination by June 7, giving them two weeks to get vaccinated or face firing. Out of those employees, 25 received vaccinations while the rest are no longer employed at the system, according to Houston Methodist spokeswoman Gale Smith.

A group of employees had sued Houston Methodist over the vaccine mandate, claiming the hospital couldn’t force workers to take an “experimental vaccine.” However, the suit was rejected by a federal judge last week.

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“This is not coercion,” U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in an opinion on June 12. “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer.”

Hospital president and CEO Marc Boom said in a memo to employees that Texas law allows the hospital to mandate coronavirus vaccines, just as it has mandated flu vaccines over the past decade.

“I know that today may be difficult for some who are sad about losing a colleague who’s decided to not get vaccinated,” Boom wrote in the memo earlier this month, which was obtained by the Washington Post. “We only wish them well and thank them for their past service to our community, and we must respect the decision they made.”

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