Houston Hospital Suspends 178 Workers for Refusing to Comply with Its COVID Vaccine Mandate

"I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first," said Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom

houston methodist hospital
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Houston Memorial has suspended 178 staff members for failing to comply with their COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Back in March, the President and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital Marc Boom announced that all employees would be required to be vaccinated, according to NBC affiliate KPRC. At the time, employees were informed that they would have until June 7 to get fully vaccinated.

After that date passed, the hospital announced on Tuesday that they had suspended 178 workers without pay for failing to meet the requirement, USA Today reported. Those workers represent less than 1% of the hospital's total 25,000 employees. And 27 out of those 178 suspended staff members have already received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Boom wrote in an email to staff, according to the outlet.

An additional 285 employees received medical or religious exemptions and another 332 were granted deferrals.

All of the suspended workers are set to be fired in two weeks should they continue to refuse to comply with the hospital health mandate.

In his email, Boom praised the large majority of employees who did get vaccinated, writing that they made the right decision to protect "our patients, your colleagues, your families, and our community."

"I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first," he added, according to USA Today. Boom also noted that "the science proves that the vaccines are not only safe, but necessary if we are going to turn the corner against COVID-19."

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A number of employees staged a walkout in protest of the mandate on Monday, according to KPRC. Additionally, 117 employees filed a lawsuit against Houston Methodist in May.

"I feel like they kind of bullied us into this little corner, like you have to do it or you don't have a job. This is my only source of income," one hospital employee told the outlet.

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In a FAQ page about their mandate, the hospital points out that all three vaccines were given emergency use authorization from the FDA, which "does not mean shortcuts were taken in the research and clinical studies that were conducted."

"In fact, these went through the same trials that other drugs use in a more traditional approval process just on a different track that is commonly used by the FDA," the hospital writes.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, current federal guidelines "do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the [Americans With Disabilities Act] and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations

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