A hospital in Alabama has rescinded its mandate requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Just one month after mandating all employees get the jab, the University of Alabama at Birmingham reversed the order and will await details 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 been mandating vaccines for all employees — and some have even fired employees who refuse.
Houston Methodist Hospital, which manages eight hospitals, gave employees just weeks to get the vaccine or face suspension or termination. On June 7, the deadline, the system suspended 178 workers without pay.
Before that, though, 117 full- and part-time workers filed a lawsuit.
But U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston ruled that the argument from lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” is false. The judge also said Bridges’ contention that the vaccine requirement is tantamount to the Nazis’ medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust to be “reprehensible.”
And Hughes also said that a business can require workers to get a vaccine and is not coercion, as Bridges claimed in the lawsuit.
“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.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not fully approved the vaccines, instead issuing only emergency use authorization. They alleged the hospital is “illegally requiring its employees to be injected with an experimental vaccine as a condition of employment.” Since the lawsuit was filed, however, the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine.
The complaint also cited the Nuremberg Code, which “bans forced medical experimentations, again in effect arguing that the vaccine is experimental and potentially unsafe,” Fox News reported.
Before the judge’s ruling, Woodfill said the hospital was just trying to make money. “To promote its business and increase profits at the expense of other health care providers and their employees’ health, defendants advertise to the public that they ‘require all employees and employed physicians to get a COVID-19 vaccine,’” Woodfill told ABC News.