153 workers at a US hospital quit or were fired after refusing a mandatory Covid-19 vaccine
- Houston Methodist Hospital told The Washington Post that it had fired staff who refused a Covid-19 shot.
- Some staff quit over the vaccine mandate, too. More than 150 staff had left or were fired, it said.
- Earlier this month a judge dismissed a lawsuit that said the mandate treated staff like "guinea pigs."
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Houston Methodist Hospital said it had fired workers who refused to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
A spokesperson for the hospital told The Washington Post that it had either fired or accepted the resignations of 153 staff members on Tuesday, after they refused to get the vaccine.
The hospital said in late March that it would mandate Covid-19 vaccines for its 26,000 employees, and could fire staff who refused to get the jab - making it one of the first hospitals to introduce a vaccine mandate. It said it would allow religious and medical exemptions "in very rare cases."
It rolled out the policy to managers and new hires first, before expanding it to its entire workforce. CEO Marc Boom said in an internal email in March that managers would receive a list of all the employees they manage who hadn't yet received a dose of the vaccine, and gave a deadline of June 7 for people to get their shot.
The spokesperson told The Post that more than 99% of workers had got the vaccine, but that on June 7 it suspended 178 workers who hadn't got a shot. These people got an extra two weeks to get vaccinated, but only 25 of them did.
The 153 who still hadn't received a vaccine were either fired or resigned, the spokesperson said.
Houston Methodist did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
More than 100 workers sued the hospital over the policy in May, saying it was "forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs' as a condition for continued employment."
The lawsuit also called the Covid-19 vaccines "experimental," and noted that none have been granted full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge on June 12, who called the plaintiff's allegations that the vaccine was experimental "false." The judge added that the hospital's policy doesn't violate state or federal law.
Houston Methodist isn't the only employer mandating vaccines for staff.
United Airlines said it would require all new US-based employees to be vaccinated, and would give extra vacation to current staff if they get jabbed, while Delta said it could bar its staff from international flights if they refuse a shot.
Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, doesn't have a vaccine mandate, but told US employees to share their vaccination status with the financial-services company.
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