HOUSTON, Texas — More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine have been fired or resigned after a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over the vaccine requirement.
NBC News reports that a spokesperson for Houston Methodist Hospital system said 153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period or were terminated on Tuesday.
The case over how far health care institutions can go to protect patients and others against the coronavirus has been closely watched. It's believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. But it clearly won't be the end of the debate.
Earlier this month, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit filed by 117 employees over the requirement. The hospital system's decision in April to require the vaccine for workers made it the first major U.S. health care system to do so.
The Houston Methodist employees who filed the lawsuit compared their situation to medical experiments that were performed on unwilling medical victims in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes called that comparison “reprehensible” and said claims made in the lawsuit that the vaccines are experimental and dangerous are false.
Hughes, who dismissed the lawsuit on June 12, said that if the employees didn't like the requirement, they could go work elsewhere.
Those who filed the lawsuit have already appealed the judge’s dismissal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The hospital system had required employees to complete their immunization by June 7. The next day, 178 employees were suspended for two weeks without pay for not complying.