153 workers at Houston Methodist Hospital quit or were fired after they refused a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine
The hospital said in late March that it would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its 26,000 employees. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
  • 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.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Houston Methodist Hospital said it had fired workers who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The hospital said it had either fired or accepted the resignations of 153 staff members on Tuesday, after they refused to get the vaccine, The Washington Post first reported. A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed this to Insider.

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.

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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.

It told Insider that its entire workforce has now been either vaccinated or given an exemption.

“All our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Boom said in an email to staff seen by Insider. “Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients.”

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 three vaccines in use in the US all have emergency use authorization from the FDA and have undergone rigorous clinical trials, Insider’s Michelle Mark reported.

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.