Coronavirus

Houston Methodist Suspends 178 Workers For Not Taking COVID Vaccine With Firings to Follow

Unvaccinated Houston Methodist employees and their supporters protested the hospital's vaccine mandate Monday night.
Unvaccinated Houston Methodist employees and their supporters protested the hospital's vaccine mandate Monday night. Photo by Schaefer Edwards

For all the noise made by a group of Houston Methodist nurses and other workers who opposed the hospital's coronavirus vaccine mandate — including the dozens who protested outside the hospital’s Baytown branch Monday night and the 117 employees who have sued Houston Methodist for requiring COVID-19 vaccinations — the vast majority ended up complying ahead of Monday's deadline to get vaccinated.

“We had only 178 full-time or part-time employees who did not get fully vaccinated or were not granted an exemption or deferral,” Houston Methodist president and CEO Dr. Marc Boom wrote in an email to his employees Tuesday. “Of these employees, 27 have received one dose of vaccine, so I am hopeful they will get their second doses soon.”

Houston Methodist made headlines earlier this year for being the first major hospital system to require its workforce to get inoculated against the deadly coronavirus.

In his message to all Houston Methodist employees, Boom thanked the vast majority of his workforce for meeting the hospital’s June 7 deadline to take any of the available coronavirus vaccines.

“Congratulations to all!” Boom wrote, announcing that “we are nearly 100 percent compliant with our COVID-19 vaccine mandate with 24,947 of us being fully vaccinated.”

Houston Methodist granted medical or religious exemptions to 285 employees, while 332 other workers “were granted deferrals for pregnancy and other reasons,” Boom said.

Per the hospital’s vaccine mandate, “The small percentage of employees who did not comply with the policy are now suspended without pay for the next 14 days,” Boom wrote. If those workers still haven’t been fully-vaccinated by the end of that two-week period, they’ll be terminated.

“I wish the number could be zero,” Boom wrote, “but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first.” Still, Boom said he understood that some of his employees “are sad about losing a colleague who’s decided not to get vaccinated.”

“We only wish them well and thank them for their past service to our community,” Boom said of the now-suspended hospital employees, “and we must respect the decision they made.”

Boom thanked employees who chose to get vaccinated and acknowledged “that for some, this was a very difficult decision.” He countered the unfounded claims of vaccine skeptics by explaining that “The mRNA technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines isn’t new or experimental. It’s been around for many years. With more than 300 million doses distributed in the United States alone, the vaccines have proven to be extremely safe.”

“Since I announced this mandate in April, Houston Methodist has been challenged by the media, some outspoken employees and even sued,” Boom wrote. “As the first hospital system to mandate COVID-19 vaccines we were prepared for this.”

“The criticism is sometimes the price we pay for leading medicine,” he said.
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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