More than 150 Texas hospital workers leave over mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policy

The hospital, Houston Methodist, had told employees that they had to be vaccinated by June 7 or face suspension for two weeks.
The hospital, Houston Methodist, had told employees that they had to be vaccinated by June 7 or face suspension for two weeks.PHOTO: AFP

HOUSTON (NYTIMES) - More than 150 staff members at a Houston-area hospital were fired or resigned on Tuesday (June 22) for not following a policy that requires employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The hospital, Houston Methodist, had told employees that they had to be vaccinated by June 7 or face suspension for two weeks.

Of the nearly 200 employees who had been suspended, 153 of them were terminated by the hospital on Tuesday or had resigned, according to Ms Gale Smith, a spokesman for the hospital.

She said employees who had complied with the vaccine policy during the suspension period were allowed to return to work a day after they became compliant.

The hospital did not specify how many workers had complied and returned to work.

Earlier this month, dozens of employees who had not been vaccinated by Houston Methodist's deadline protested outside the hospital against the mandatory vaccine policy.

The protest followed a now-dismissed lawsuit filed last month by 117 Houston Methodist employees against their employer over the vaccine policy.

The workers' lawsuit accused the hospital of "forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs' as a condition for continued employment".

Ms Jennifer Bridges, a nurse who led the Houston Methodist protest, had cited the lack of full FDA approval for the shots as a reason she would not get vaccinated.

US District Judge Lynn Hughes, in the Southern District of Texas, rejected a claim by Ms Bridges, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, that the vaccines available for use in the United States were experimental and dangerous.

"The hospital's employees are not participants in a human trial," Ms Hughes wrote. "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."