The Hill reports that a hospital system in Houston is giving employees a choice: get vaccinated for the coronavirus, or get a new job.
LaTricia Blank says she’s one of more than 150 employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system who were fired or chose to step down after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Speaking with CNN, Blank said her ouster left her “relieved.”
“I don’t want to work for people like that,” she said, according to The Hill. “Don’t take away my choice. You’re not going to turn away a patient and give them care if they don’t have a vaccine. Don’t take away my choice.”
“I don’t understand”
Blank explained later in her interview that she remains hesitant to get the vaccine in part because of how quickly it was developed. She also expressed concern about potential side effects of the shots, which are available in the U.S. from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require two doses, and Johnson & Johnson, whose shot requires a single dose to be effective.
The former hospital worker said her concerns about the vaccines were heightened after her employer began offering bonuses to employees who got the shot.
“I don’t understand, if this is really supposed to be good for us, why are you having to offer us anything?” Blank said, according to The Hill.
Still, she called the decision not to get the shot “a very hard” one to make, The Hill reported. More than 600,000 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. since last spring, NPR notes.
“Laws to protect employees”
According to CBS News, employees of the hospital system had previously filed suit against the policy requiring them to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but a judge dismissed the suit earlier this month. As a result, 153 employees were shown the door, either via resignation or official ouster, a spokesperson for the hospital system said.
Houston Methodist’s decision requiring the vaccine, first made back in April, “made it the first major U.S. health care system” to make such a move, CBS reported. It remains unclear if similar policies will begin popping up elsewhere in the country — but the ousted hospital workers are doing their best to prevent that.
According to CBS, they’ve filed an appeal seeking to overturn the judge’s prior ruling against them.
Jennifer Bridges, a 39-year-old nurse who serves as the lead plaintiff in the suit, told CBS that she hopes “if we win this at a federal level, then they’re going to create laws to protect employees from having to go through this anywhere else in the country.” But only time will tell.