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153 Houston Hospital Workers Are Out Over Vaccine Refusal

They either resigned or were terminated after judge dismissed lawsuit over the issue
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2021 12:02 AM CDT
Updated Jun 23, 2021 6:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine have been fired or resigned after a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over the vaccine requirement, the AP reports. A spokesperson for Houston Methodist hospital system said 153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period or were terminated on Tuesday. The case over how far health care institutions can go to protect patients and others against the coronavirus has been closely watched. It's believed to be the first of its kind in the US. The hospital system's decision in April to require the vaccine for workers made it the first major US health care system to do so. Houston Methodist’s president and CEO has said nearly 25,000 of the system’s more than 26,000 workers have been fully vaccinated.

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Some 117 Houston Methodist employees filed suit, likening their situation to medical experiments performed on unwilling victims in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. US District Judge Lynn Hughes called that comparison “reprehensible” and said claims made in the lawsuit that the vaccines are experimental and dangerous are false. Hughes, who dismissed the lawsuit on June 12, said that if the employees didn't like the requirement, they could go work elsewhere. Those who filed the lawsuit have already appealed. The hospital system had required employees to complete their immunization by June 7. The next day, 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying. Other hospital systems around the country, including in Washington, DC, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and most recently New York, have followed Houston Methodist and have also gotten pushback.

(Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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