As a growing number of healthcare providers are mandating that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs, workers are beginning to respond with protests and lawsuits.
Protests erupted over the weekend at at least two of Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System hospitals, and additional protests are planned next weekend at some of Trinity Health’s locations, the Detroit Free Press reported. As the McKnight’s Business Daily recently reported, Trinity — which includes 109 “continuing care facilities” (defined as long-term care, assisted and independent living, and affordable housing communities) in addition to 90 hospitals, 18 clinically integrated networks and 13 PACE center programs — recently announced that employees at most locations will be required to submit proof of vaccination by Sept. 21.
“We have received widespread support from our patients, team members and the community for our decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine for team members. At the same time, we acknowledge that uncertainty remains for some, and respect the rights of those members of our Henry Ford family, as well as those in our broader communities, to voice their concerns,” Bob Riney, Henry Ford’s COO and president of healthcare operations, said in a statement.
Protestors, on the other hand, remain opposed to mandates.
“We are not anti-vax. We are not unvaccinated out here,” protest organizer Amber Castro told the Detroit Free Press. “There are people who got the COVID vaccine. We are all out here because we do not believe the vaccine should be mandated.”
In Texas, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital who were suing the hospital system over its COVID-19 vaccine requirement. The employees are taking the case now to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th circuit.
“Houston Methodist is pleased and reassured after U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes today dismissed a frivolous lawsuit filed by some employees who fought our COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Marc Boom, M.D., CEO and president of Houston Methodist, told the McKnight’s Business Daily.
The judge also denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order to block Houston Methodist from suspending them.
Attorneys for the plaintiff did not respond to requests for comment.
All 50 states allow people to opt out of vaccine requirements for medical reasons, and 44 states allow objectors to opt out of immunization for religious reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, Law360 reported. In 19 states, laws or orders have limited COVID-19 vaccination requirements, according to data compiled by Ballotpedia, the media outlet said.