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Over 100 Houston Methodist employees sue health system over vaccine mandate

"Methodist Hospital is forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs' as a condition for continued employment."

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Photo: Longhua.Liao/Getty Images

A group of Houston Methodist nurses threatened to walk off the job over the hospital's mandate that they get vaccinated against COVID-19 by June 7 or be fired, according to abc13. More than 100 employees are suing Methodist Hospital System over the forced vaccination, claiming they are being used as human guinea pigs.

Lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges said she didn't want to take the vaccine because none of the three vaccines being given have gotten full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have received FDA emergency use authorization.

Bridges and 116 others filed the lawsuit on May 28, asking the judge in Montgomery County, Texas, for declaratory relief. 

The hospital system had given workers a deadline of receiving the vaccine by June 7 at midnight or face losing their jobs. Nearly all employees had complied with the mandate before the deadline, Houston Methodist said by statement.

Bridges reportedly has said she would not get vaccinated and would take her case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The vaccination fight pits executive management against employees, with those who are publicly protesting the forced vaccinations being cheered by supporters.

Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital CEO David Bernard allegedly said, according to the lawsuit, "100% vaccination is more important than your individual freedom. Every one of you is replaceable. If you don't like what (you're) doing you can leave and we will replace your spot."  

The plaintiffs said the hospital system is putting profits over people by being able to promote the safety of staff and hospital services.

To back up their safety claims, the plaintiffs gave data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systems (VAERS), a passive reporting system that relies on individuals to report their experiences to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. There were 4,434 death reports and over 12,619 serious injuries reported to the CDC's VAERS database from COVID-19 vaccines through May 10, the lawsuit said. By comparison, from July 1, 1997, until December 31, 2013, VAERS had received 666 adult death reports.

"In just four months, more adverse reports were added to the VAERS database than any single vaccine has had cumulatively over the past 31 years," the lawsuit said. "This is clearly a safety signal, further studies need to be done and plaintiffs should not be forced to participate in these dangerous trials as a condition for employment." 

The plaintiffs said the vaccine mandate is against the Nuremberg Code, a policy that came into being after the Nuremberg trials and the atrocities of medical experimentation on humans in Nazi concentration camps. 

On April 1 Methodist and The Woodlands Hospital issued a policy requiring mandatory immunization of all covered Houston Methodist employees. Phase 1 included management personnel. By June 7, all 26,000 employees were required to comply.

Those not in compliance would receive a two-week suspension. If workers did not comply by June 21, the hospital would "initiate the employee termination process," according to The New York Times.

THE LARGER TREND

This is the first time in the United States that an employer is forcing employees to an experimental vaccine trial as a condition for continued employment, the lawsuit said. The protest comes at a time when the Biden Administration is promoting, but so far falling short, of getting 70% of the population at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

According to the White House, 63% of adult Americans had been vaccinated as of June 2, including 73% of Americans aged 40 and over. COVID-19 cases and deaths have plummeted as a result, with cases falling more than 90% since January 20. Deaths are down over 85% in that time period. Nearly 600,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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