HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 29: (EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts death) (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medical staffers Flor Trevino (R) and Susan Paradela close the body bag of a deceased patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Texas reports more than 1.2 million positive cases of Covid-19, and more than 21,800 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

While supporting mandatory vaccines for nurses, Texas Nurses Association officials say nurses do have the right to chose, but they also have the right to choose a different career field that doesn’t put themselves and others in harm’s way. 

TNA CEO Cindy Zolnierek adds that studies show vaccines are overall safe and effective.

“The risk of side effects from COVID are much greater than any risk that you’re going to have from the vaccine,” Zolnierik said.

Zolnierek said there are very important reasons why the group endorses mandatory vaccinations for nurses.

“They’re going to be the highest risk for encountering COVID, and also, if they were to become infected by COVID, they could be at risk of transmitting that infection to others,” Zolnierek said.

She applauded Methodist Hospital’s decision to mandate all of its health care workers to get immunized. But not all health care workers are on board.

Jennifer Bridges is one of now more than 200 former Methodist staff members who are now suing the hospital after being suspended or laid off for refusing to get vaccinated.

“A lot of us ended up getting fired on June 22. This is horrible, everybody in the course of history has always been able to choose what they do with their own body,” Bridges said.

Zolnierek said when it comes to nurses and COVID-19, the consequences of not being vaccinated will likely affect more than just them.

“Our ethic requires us to first do no harm so we cannot practice nursing without considering the impact on a patient,” Zolnierek said.

TNA said at least 75% of health care workers are already vaccinated, they’re hoping to get that number to over 99%.

The Nurses Association released the following statement: 

“Texas Nurses are overwhelmed and highly concerned about the recent rise in COVID cases. In addition, they are seeing higher positivity rates resulting in more hospital admissions. There is a clear pattern emerging from unvaccinated people contracting COVID. As a result, nurses are becoming more exposed and testing positive despite being vaccinated.  Both TNA and the American Nurses Association continue to support mandatory vaccines and compliance to wearing masks.”