The system’s CEO said Tuesday A Houston-based hospital system suspended more than 170 health-care workers who did not comply with the organization’s vaccine mandate, a day after employees protested the requirement outside a medical center.
While 24,947 of Houston Methodist’s employees were fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by Monday’s deadline, 178 employees did not get fully vaccinated and were suspended without pay for two weeks, Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom wrote in an internal message that the system shared with news agencies.
Meanwhile, 285 employees received a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine, and 332 employees were granted deferrals for pregnancy or other reasons. The CEO in March called on Houston Methodist staffers to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, saying the health system needed to set an example and protect patients.
The policy drew attacks from conservative media and prompted legal threats, including a lawsuit from more than 100 of the system’s staffers, led by a nurse who worked in the coronavirus unit and insisted that vaccines needed further study. On Monday, dozens of medical workers gathered outside a Texas hospital to protest the policy. “Vaxx is Venom,” read one of the signs.
“Don’t Lose Sight of Our Rights,” read another sign held by one among dozens of supporters who rallied at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital in Baytown, Tex. Starting in April, the system began requiring vaccination for all its employees in more than a dozen of its locations across Texas, saying it was the first in the nation to take such a step.
According to a hospital memo those who did not provide proof of vaccination by June 7 or who had not applied by early April for an exemption based on “medical condition (including pregnancy deferment) or sincerely held religious belief” were to face suspension without pay for two weeks.