BAYTOWN, Texas - As the clock struck 7 p.m. on Monday, dozens of Houston Methodist employees walked out of their jobs after the hospital put in place a mandatory vaccine deadline.
Houston Methodist announced that the employees will enter two weeks unpaid suspension period at midnight. After which they’ll be terminated, if not vaccinated.
"I believe it’s a choice," said Ashton Handley who resigned a few weeks ago. "I'm not on either side, I'm not anti-vaxxer, I’ve received my vaccine, but I believe it should be someone’s choice."
Jared Woodfill, who’s representing the majority of the 117 employees and counting, tells FOX 26, many of these frontline workers have already caught the virus.
A significant crowd gathered outside of the hospital to show their support, they believe the vaccine should be a choice.
"Just to think that these girls and all of these health care workers have worked through a pandemic, and now you are going to fire them because they just want to wait and see what this vaccine does, I think that’s wrong," said Betsy Larson, former employer.
The CDC saying the COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use by the FDA.
The lawsuit focuses on the EUA statute.
"If you look at the language of the statute, where they talk about emergency use authorization (EUA), you cannot force someone to participate in that trial," said Woodfill. "And that’s one of the things we put in our petition."
Houston Methodist releasing a statement in response:
"Today is the deadline for Houston Methodist employees to comply with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy. We are proud to report that almost 100% of our 26,000 employees have complied, making the right decision to fulfill their sacred obligation to protect our patients. Unfortunately, a few employees have not met the vaccine requirements and are inviting other employees to join them as they end their shifts today. We fully support the right of our employees to peacefully gather on their own time, but it is unacceptable to even suggest they abandon their patients to participate in this activity. We have faith that our employees will continue putting our patients first. It is unfortunate that today’s milestone of Houston Methodist becoming the safest hospital system in the country is being overshadowed by a few disgruntled employees."
Houston Methodist statement on EUA Process:
"To be clear, the claim that the COVID-19 vaccination is experimental is false. The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through preclinical testing, three phases of clinical trials and external review by two independent panels of experts and two civil service scientific reviews.
EUA simply means that the vaccine was prioritized to the top of the FDA's queue of new therapies and devices to review. The FDA generally uses the EUA during a public health crisis, when there's an immediate need for a vaccine or new treatment. For instance, early in the pandemic, convalescent plasma therapy was approved by the FDA via the EUA process. Before the FDA grants emergency use authorization, the safety and efficacy of the vaccines was reviewed by panels of independent experts retained by the companies; by FDA scientific staff; and by an independent panel of experts convened by the FDA."