More than 150 staff members at a Houston-area hospital were fired or resigned on Tuesday for not following a policy that requires employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The hospital, Houston Methodist, had told employees that they had to be vaccinated by June 7 or face suspension for two weeks. Of the nearly 200 employees who had been suspended, 153 of them were terminated by the hospital on Tuesday or had resigned, according to Gale Smith, a spokeswoman for the hospital.
Ms. Smith said employees who had complied with the vaccine policy during the suspension period were allowed to return to work a day after they became compliant.
The hospital did not specify how many workers had complied and returned to work.
Earlier this month, dozens of employees who had not been vaccinated by Houston Methodist’s deadline protested outside of the hospital against the mandatory vaccine policy.
The protest followed a now dismissed lawsuit filed last month by 117 Houston Methodist employees against their employer over the vaccine policy. The workers’ lawsuit accused the hospital of “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.”
Jennifer Bridges, a nurse who led the Houston Methodist protest, had cited the lack of full F.D.A. approval for the shots as a reason she wouldn’t get vaccinated.
U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes, in the Southern District of Texas, rejected a claim by Ms. Bridges, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, that the vaccines available for use in the United States were experimental and dangerous.
“The hospital’s employees are not participants in a human trial,” Judge Hughes wrote. “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the Covid-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.”
With medical supplies depleted, vaccines scarce, doctors lamenting physical and mental fatigue and hospitals turning away patients for lack of beds or oxygen, health officials say they fear a wave like the one that ripped through India in April and May could be looming in western Kenya and other parts of Africa.
All of Africa is vulnerable, as the latest wave of the pandemic sweeps the continent, driven in part by more transmissible variants. Fewer than 1 percent of Africa’s people have been even partly vaccinated, by far the lowest rate for any continent.
“I think the greatest risk in Africa is to look at what happened in Italy earlier on and what happened in India and start thinking we are safe — to say it’s very far away from us and that we may not go the same way,” said Dr. Mark…
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