153 workers resign or get fired from Houston hospital after refusing COVID-19 vaccine

153 workers resign or get fired from Houston hospital after refusing COVID-19 vaccine
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More than 150 workers either resigned or got fired from the Houston Methodist hospital system after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Gale Smith, a spokeswoman for Houston Methodist, confirmed to The Hill that 153 employees either resigned or were terminated as of Tuesday.

The number was first reported by The Washington Post. The hospital declined to tell the news outlet how many employees fell into each category.

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The update comes amid a back-and-forth between Houston Methodist and a small percentage of its staff over the hospital’s COVID-19 mandate.

On April 1, Houston Methodist was the first hospital to announce that its employees had until June 7 to get vaccinated or face termination.

Roughly 120 employees filed a lawsuit against the hospital in late May, arguing that they were being forced into being "human 'guinea pigs' as a condition for continued employment."

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on June 12, finding that the hospital was not illegally mandating its employees to get vaccinated. The plaintiffs, led by nurse Jennifer Bridges, have appealed the lawsuit to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The hospital said earlier this month that nearly 100 percent of its staff complied with the vaccine mandate.

It said in an emailed statement at the time that 178 employees had not been vaccinated or granted a deferral or exception. Another 285 employees had been granted religious or medical exemptions, while a separate 332 were granted deferrals for pregnancy or other reasons.

Other hospitals have since imposed vaccine mandates. Indiana University Health, the largest hospital system in Indiana, is requiring its employees to get vaccinated by Sept. 1.

The Post noted that the majority of hospitals in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, as well as the University of Pennsylvania Health System, are also requiring employees to be vaccinated by September.