A company mandate at a major Houston hospital which asked employees to take any of the COVID-19 vaccines available in order to return to work has led to nearly 180 employees being suspended for refusing to do so.
Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom said the 178 workers who were suspended represent less than 1 percent of almost 25,000 employees.
“We are nearly 100% compliant with our COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Boom said in an email to staff Tuesday (June 8). “Houston Methodist is officially the first hospital system in the country to achieve this goal for the benefit of its patients.”
27 of the 178 suspended workers have received one dose of the vaccine according to Boom and he’s hopeful they will receive the second dose. All 178 workers are suspended for two weeks and are set to be fired if they don’t get fully vaccinated. For context, 285 employees at the hospital received a medical or religious exemption to taking the vaccine and 332 were granted exemptions due to pregnancy or other reasons.
Boom hopes the other 151 employees who’ve yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccination eventually get it.
“I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first,” he said.
Some employees such as Amanda Rivera feel offended the hospital policy is in place given how much work was done without a vaccine throughout 2020.
“I feel betrayed a little bit,” Rivera told KHOU while leaving the hospital on Monday (June 7). “I worked in the ER. It was crazy during the pandemic. We were short-staffed. The hospital was over capacity with patients. It was just a lot. Now for them to come and do this is like a slap in the face.”
Vaccination rates across the country among public hospital employees vary, despite a public plea from the government on down for citizens to become vaccinated. According to a USA TODAY survey, 51 percent to 91 percent of the largest hospital networks are fully vaccinated. As the world returns to normal, various entities such as colleges and universities are requiring students and employees to be vaccinated for the upcoming school year.
Opposers to the mandate, such as Gov. Greg Abbott have signed into law of how “vaccine passports” are prohibited and has denied state contracts to businesses who require customers to be vaccinated in order to be patrons.
More than 100 Houston Methodist employees filed suit against the hospital system in May, stating vaccines are “experimental” in their eyes and the mandatory vaccination policy is unjust. The suit also notes vaccines have emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but still haven’t garnered full approval. Boom has cited the usage of 300 million doses already distributed across the United States as proof the vaccines are safe and necessary against COVID-19.