Photo by Luis Melendez via Unsplash

At Houston Methodist Hospital, 153 employees who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine have been fired or resigned. 

On June 7, 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying with the hospital’s demands to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Most of the employees chose to leave the hospital or not get vaccinated. Only 25 of those employees chose to get vaccinated. 

In April, the hospital announced that employees would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their jobs — one of the first health systems to require the COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement by Houston Methodist Hospital on June 9, a total of 24,947 employees complied and are fully vaccinated.

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On May 28, 117 Houston Methodist employees sued the hospital for requiring the vaccine in order to secure their jobs. The lawsuit asked a federal court to prevent the hospital from taking action against employees. In response, the hospital gave these workers a deadline of June 7 to get vaccinated or lose their jobs while the federal judge dismissed the lawsuit as being frivolous

The hospital workers who filed the lawsuit have already appealed the judge’s dismissal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Additionally, on June 12, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston dismissed a lawsuit brought by Jennifer Bridges, a former nurse who stated that the vaccination policy was unlawful, likening the idea of forcing staffers to be “guinea pigs” for vaccines that are yet to be fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Currently, the FDA has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — for emergency use. Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full approval by the FDA for their vaccines. 

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Hughes deemed Bridges’ contention that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” to be false, therefore irrelevant. He also found that her analogy of the vaccination requirement to the Nazis’ forced medical experimentation on those in concentration camps during the Holocaust to be “reprehensible.”

Marc Bloom, Houston Methodist CEO, applauded the judge’s ruling in a statement saying that “employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do.”

Bridges has already repealed the decision and is now working at a private nurse-staffing company that had recruited her, but declined to name the company, citing risks of professional retribution.

Since Houston Methodist Hospital announced the vaccine mandate, there has been much controversy surrounding it. The conflicts persist in light of the 153 employees who have left or were fired from the hospital. Bridges announced she had scheduled a protest outside one of Houston Methodist’s facilities. 

There have been a growing number of healthcare institutions adopting similar policies to that of Houston Methodist Hospital, including the majority of hospitals in D.C. and Maryland.

“We know that being a leader is hard, but well worth it, as we are one of the safest hospital systems on the planet now. We did this to protect our patients — we are fulfilling our sacred obligation as health care workers,” Stefanie Asin, public relations director of Houston Methodist Hospital, told Scriberr News. 

Written ByVivian Kwang

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