More health care employers are demanding that workers be vaccinated for COVID-19, a trend that experts say has been spurred by an increase in the number of cases nationwide and the recent dismissal of a federal lawsuit challenging a vaccination mandate.
A federal judge for the Southern Texas District of Houston dismissed on June 12 a lawsuit filed by 117 workers at Houston Methodist Hospital on the grounds that they should be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs.
"Methodist tries to do their job to save lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus", the decision in Jennifer Bridges, et al. v. Houston Methodist et. al. states. "It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer."
Since then, dozens of hospital systems have prescribed COVID-1
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and five other organizations representing medical professionals in infectious diseases, infection prevention, pharmacies, pediatricians and long-term care issued a joint statement on July 13 that hospitals and other health care facilities should require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"The first reason is 'do no harm,'" said Rochester, New York-based Ann Marie Pettis, APIC president and a nurse for the prevention of infectious diseases. "We handle the most vulnerable population. … We can not afford to come to work asymptomatic and risk our patients.
Ms. Pettis said the threat of litigation has deterred some hospitals from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. "I think the Houston Methodist took that concern off the table," she said.
However, another issue has arisen, as hospitals that require vaccinations fear that some workers will leave to join competitors who do not have a shooting mandate. "They are really worried about the possibility of losing staff," Pettis said.
Some legal experts warn that despite disputes in Texas, disputes may still be on the horizon, as some of the arguments against mandatory vaccinations are still a point
"Until we have full (FDA) approval, there is no precedent for giving mandate for the vaccines, "said Wendy Lazerson, Palo Alto, California-based partner and co-chair of the Sidley Austin LLP Working and Working Group in both Palo Alto and San Francisco. "When that happens … employers will be able to mandate, and these challenges to individual freedom will go along the way because there is so much authority and precedent where the public interest demands that something be done."
The Houston Methodist decision, which is being appealed, may have further complicated the issue, says Nicholas Reiter, New York-based partner and co-chair of the Venable LLP's Labor and Employment Group, adding that employers' concerns about vaccination requirements are increasing "daily. "
" Although the decision Bridges may give employers more comfort, I think employers are still struggling, they want to go so far as to demand the vaccine for employees to keep their jobs, " he said.
A directive from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could be helpful in employers' decision-making, he said. which includes religious beliefs and health problems.
Still, Reiter said, many employers do not want to go that far. "They will instead allow incentive programs that encourage but do not require" vaccinations, "he said.
" Some of the employers had seen cases fall and they might have thought this would disappear. But this can play in the other direction. "We see it in the news every day," he said.