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Friday, June 25, 2021

Vaccine Passport Prohibition Won’t Protect Employees

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A vaccine passport prohibition passed by the Texas Legislature this session would not protect employees at a Houston hospital fighting mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition for continued employment. Legislation that would have addressed such situations died in the Legislature, and one senator believes Abbott should bring this back in a special session.

A total of 117 Houston Methodist Hospital employees are suing their employer over a requirement that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination by June 7 as a condition of employment. Four of the plaintiffs, staff members in high-level positions, have already been fired.

Because the vaccinations are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the employees say being required to vaccinate makes the recipients part of a trial. “You can’t fire someone for refusing to do something illegal, and if you look at federal law, it makes it very clear that it’s illegal to force someone to participate in a vaccine trial,” said Jared Woodfill, the employees’ attorney.

Questions have also been raised about the vaccines’ safety. In a post about his bill restricting vaccine passports, State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) said that during a May 6 committee hearing, senators “heard informative testimony from Texas doctors who have experience treating patients on the frontlines of the pandemic, and who shared their concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

But recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that enforces federal laws on employment, said employers can require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

“It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009,” Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom said. “The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental.”

One question that exists is

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