More than 150 Houston Methodist employees officially parted ways with the hospital Tuesday after declining to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.
According to a statement from Methodist CEO Marc Boom, a total of 153 employees were either terminated or resigned by the midnight deadline.
All Methodist employees are now either vaccinated or granted an exemption, Boom said.
“We respect the right of all to peacefully protest but now we must move forward and continue to focus on being one of the safest hospital systems in the country,” the statement read. “All our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Houston Methodist is the only hospital in the region to require its employees to be vaccinated.
Earlier this month, 178 employees in total were suspended for not complying with the hospital’s vaccination policy. Those suspended had two weeks to receive the vaccine in order to be allowed back.
Because of the timing, those employees were told they had to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine if they had not already gotten the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, which require two shots.
According to Methodists’ numbers, 25 opted to get vaccinated and return to work.
Other workers, however, chose to fight the requirement: 117 former employees filed a lawsuit against the hospital system shortly after the suspension.
That lawsuit argued that requiring employees to take an “experimental vaccine” was in direct violation of federal law, and likened the requirement to “medical experiments performed on unwilling victims of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.”
The suit’s main argument hinged on the fact that none of the COVID-19 vaccines have been given full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. All three have received emergency use authorization.
The case was dismissed by a federal judge last week, but Houston attorney Jared Woodfill said he would be appeal the dismissal, and planned to file a separate lawsuit at the state level with the intention of reaching the Texas Supreme Court.
“My clients’ resolve is only strengthened, and they want to fight this policy until the very end,” he said.
He had previously said on Monday that about 50 more people have asked to be included in the case, bringing the total to about 165, according to Woodfill.
It was not yet clear as of Tuesday evening whether some of the 25 employees who returned to work after getting vaccinated were part of the ongoing litigation.