A Houston hospital system is down 178 workers, all of whom were suspended this week over their refusal to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The Houston Methodist employees' suspension without pay lasts two weeks, after which they'll be fired if they haven't complied with the policy. CEO Dr. Marc Boom says those workers account for less than 1% of 25,000 employees, and that the current 99%+ vaccination rate is unmatched: "Houston Methodist is officially the first hospital system in the country to achieve this goal for the benefit of its patients," he says. USA Today cites a survey it did of big hospital networks that found staff vaccination levels ranged from 51% to 91%. In the case of Houston Methodist, 27 of the affected employees have gotten one dose. Another 285 were able to get a medical or religious exemption.
While guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says such a mandate is within an employer's rights due to the "direct threat" COVID poses to employees, 117 Houston Methodist employees sued over what they described as an "experimental" vaccine in late May. Bloomberg reports they cited the WWII-era Nuremberg Code, which was "designed to prevent medical experimentation on unwilling human subjects." The Washington Post has an internal letter from Boom that reads in part, "I know that today may be difficult for some who are sad about losing a colleague who’s decided to not get vaccinated. We only wish them well and thank them for their past service to our community, and we must respect the decision they made." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)