Vaccination or unemployment: Houston hospital employees stage walkout to protest mandate

Southwest

HOUSTON (NewsNation Now) — Dozens of staff members staged a walkout to protest a Texas hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Employees of Houston Methodist Hospital have two options: Receive the vaccine or be fired. It’s a policy not everyone is on board with.

Monday night, vaccine hesitancy was personified in protest as droves of people showed up to Houston Methodist to voice their outrage over the policy.

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Nurse Jennifer Bridges is leading the charge, representing the 117 staff members who have sued the hospital. They’ve even created a GoFundMe page that has collected more than $100,000 for legal fees.

Houston Methodist says nearly 100% of their 26,000 employees have been vaccinated, calling it a “sacred obligation to protect our patients.”

“We fully support the right of our employees to peacefully gather on their own time,” the hospital said. “It is unfortunate that yesterday’s milestone of Houston Methodist becoming the safest hospital system in the country was overshadowed by a few disgruntled employees.”

Infectious diseases physician Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of the University of California, San Francisco says healthcare workers mirror society.

“Any mistrust represented in society is also represented in healthcare workers,” said Chin-Hong.

Vaccine hesitancy has been high among healthcare workers. Nearly half remained unvaccinated as of mid-March, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Common concerns being the vaccine’s emergency approval and potential side effects.

But the largest vaccination campaign in history is still well underway across the country.

“The more people who are vaccinated, the more confidence increases and the more people want to get vaccinated,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

The employees of Houston Methodist Hospital who did not meet Monday’s vaccine deadline are under a two-week unpaid suspension. Those that don’t get vaccinated by June 21 will be fired, according to the hospital.

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