A hospital in Alabama has revoked a policy forcing employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which had been in effect since January.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham changed its order to require all staff to get the flu shot less than a month after issuing it and will now wait for more information from the federal government on its mandate.
“President of the Alabama Hospital Association Dr. Don Williamson said most hospitals in the state aren’t requiring the shot right now anyway, UAB was one of few,” WRBC-TV reported. “He said hospital staff have high vaccination numbers, anywhere from 50% to 80% in different locations, which Williamson said many achieved through incentive programs.”
The hospital continues to offer $400 to employees who get the vaccine. “Hospitals have successfully navigated the waters of getting people vaccinated and for the most part, they have been able to do it without mandates,” Williamson said.
Other hospitals have mandated vaccinations for all personnel — and some have even fired employees who fail to comply with the requirement.
Those working at Houston Methodist Hospital, which oversees eight hospitals, were given only a few weeks to receive the vaccine, or they would face suspension or firing. The system terminated the employment of 178 employees without pay on June 7, the deadline.
Prior to that, however, 117 full- and part-time employees filed a lawsuit against the company.
Nonetheless, lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges’s claim that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” was rejected by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston, who determined that the claim is baseless. A second point of contention, which the judge found “reprehensible,” was Bridges’ claim that the vaccine requirement is analogous to Nazi medical experiments on concentration camp detainees during the Holocaust.
In addition, Hughes stated that a company might order employees to have a vaccine, which does not constitute compulsion, as Bridges asserted in the complaint.
“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else,” Hughes wrote.
“If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for remuneration. That is all part of the bargain,” the judge said.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jared Woodfill, disagreed and vowed to file an appeal. “All of my clients continue to be committed to fighting this unjust policy,” Woodfill said in a statement.
“What is shocking is that many of my clients were on the front line treating COVID-positive patients at Texas Methodist Hospital during the height of the pandemic. As a result, many of them contracted COVID-19. As a thank you for their service and sacrifice, Methodist Hospital awards them a pink slip and sentences them to bankruptcy,” Woodfill said.