Coronavirus

More Than 150 Employees Out At Houston Methodist For Refusing To Take COVID-19 Vaccine

Houston Methodist's final vaccine deadline has come and gone.
Houston Methodist's final vaccine deadline has come and gone. Screenshot
Now that Houston Methodist’s last-chance deadline for its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has passed, the hospital has announced that more than 150 workers have either quit or have been fired for noncompliance.

The hospital’s original deadline for employees to take any of the three available coronavirus vaccines the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized for emergency use was back on June 7. All of the hospital’s 178 workers who hadn’t been fully vaccinated by that time were put on two-week unpaid suspensions that lasted through Monday.

According to Houston Methodist spokeswoman Gale Smith, “153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period or were terminated yesterday.” That means 25 employees who had been suspended on June 7 ultimately changed course and got vaccinated in time to keep their jobs.

“The employees who became compliant during the suspension period returned to work the day after they became compliant,” Smith said. The overwhelming majority of the hospital chain's 26,000 employees complied with the vaccine mandate.

One of the former Houston Methodist employees who refused to comply with the hospital’s vaccine mandate is Jennifer Bridges, a Baytown nurse who rallied 117 unvaccinated Houston Methodist workers to sue the hospital over the vaccine mandate. That lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes earlier this month, but Bridges, her fellow plaintiffs and their attorney, conservative activist Jared Woodfill, have appealed the case to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last week, Bridges told the Houston Press she was organizing a protest against Houston Methodist’s vaccine mandate that’s set to take place this Saturday outside the hospital’s headquarters in the medical center at 11 a.m., which will be the latest of several protests against Houston Methodist in recent weeks held by Bridges and local anti-vaccine groups.

According to The Washington Post, Bridges and her allies will be joined Saturday by Alex Jones, the notorious conspiracy theorist behind the ultra right-wing propaganda website InfoWars.

The Post reported that Bridges appeared on an InfoWars broadcast last week, during which Jones pledged his support. “I’m going to be with you there,” Jones said. “Everyone should come to this.”
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Schaefer Edwards is a staff writer at the Houston Press who covers local and regional news. A lifelong Texan and adopted Houstonian, he loves NBA basketball and devouring Tex-Mex while his cat watches in envy.
Contact: Schaefer Edwards