Yi-Chin Lee / AP
DALLAS – More than 150 employees at a hospital system in Houston who refused to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have been fired or withdrawn after a judge dismissed a staff case over the vaccine need.
A spokesman for the Houston Methodist Hospital system said 153 employees either resigned during the two-week suspension period or were laid off Tuesday.
Earlier this month, a federal judge dropped the lawsuit filed by 117 employees over the claim.
The issue of how far healthcare institutions can go to protect patients and others from coronavirus has been closely followed. It is thought to be the first of its kind in the United States, but it is not the end of the debate.
In the June 12 judgment, U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston considered Chief Prosecutor Jennifer Bridges’ claim that the vaccines were “experimental and dangerous” to be false and otherwise irrelevant. He also found her comparing the vaccination requirement to the Nazis’ forced medical experiments on concentration camps during the Holocaust was “reprehensible.”
The judge said that if hospital system employees did not like the requirement, they could work elsewhere.
The hospital staff who filed the case have already appealed the judge’s grim to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court.
The hospital system had required staff to complete their vaccination by June 7th. Thereafter, 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying with them.