The Houston Methodist Hospital System was the first US hospital to require all staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In April, the Houston hospital was also the first in the US to announce staff members could not return to work without a Covid vaccine. Unvaccinated employees faced termination if they did not start the vaccination series before June 7.
Houston Methodist Chief Executive Officer Dr. Marc Boom notified the staff via email of the new vaccine policy back in March. In April, the Methodist system mandated all staff to begin the vaccination series before Jun 7.
Vaccines reached the arms of 99% of the 26,000 employees, but 117 unvaccinated staff members have filed suit against Houston Methodist over the Covid-19 vaccine requirements.
ABCNews reports the lawsuit alleges that Covid-19 vaccine requirements in the hospital setting are illegal because the three US Covid-19 vaccines are FDA approved only under emergency use authorization. The complaint states the hospital violates the Nurenberg Code.
The Nurenberg Code is a set of medical ethics designed to protect human subjects voluntarily participating in clinical trials. The Nurenberg Code was created more than 70 years ago after the Nurenberg trials exposed the horrific truth of Nazi medical experimentation on Jewish prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Although Houston Methodist was the first hospital to require vaccinations, The decision is backed up by clinical data. A CDC report showed the messenger RNA vaccines are 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers and first responders.
The CDC published updated information on healthcare worker vaccine safety and efficacy in the March 29th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This update analyzed Covid-19 vaccines in a real-world setting. The findings showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections among healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential frontline workers.
Improving the number of vaccinated workers reduces the risk of spreading the infection from health providers to patients.
Houston Methodist’s staff Covid-19 vaccine requirements align with the influenza vaccine policy it implemented in 2009. Religious and medical exemptions are allowed. Pregnant women may choose to wait until after delivery to start the Covid-19 vaccine series. Of note, multiple studies now show Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy are safe for mom and baby.
The hospital considers employee vaccinations to be a patient safety issue. Like other required hospital vaccinations, employees will not be permitted to return to work unless they are vaccinated.
Most hospitals have an employee vaccination policy to help prevent medical professionals from inadvertently spreading infectious diseases to patients. The CDC recommends vaccinations for healthcare workers. The recommendations include physicians, nurses, emergency medical personnel, dental professionals and students, medical and nursing students, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, hospital volunteers, and administrative staff.
These CDC-recommended vaccinations currently include Hepatitis B, Influenza, MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), Varicella, and Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis). Most hospitals also require annual tuberculosis risk assessments.
Vaccinating healthcare workers reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections. Vaccinations protect hospital staff from infectious disease exposure and reduce the risk of a healthcare worker transmitting an infection to a hospitalized patient.
Updated guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates employers may require vaccination stating “Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.”
There are three FDA-approved vaccines for Covid-19 under emergency use authorization. Full FDA approval is expected as the results of ongoing clinical trials are completed and analyzed.
The two messenger RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer offer 95% protection against Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA). A single strand of mRNA delivers instructions to human cells to produce an antibody against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine offers 72% protection against infection and 86% against severe disease. The Janssen vaccine uses Adenovirus 26 (AD26) as the vector to deliver DNA material into our cells to provoke an immune response.
The Moderna and Janssen vaccines are approved for those 18 years old and up. The Pfizer vaccine is approved starting at age 16.
All three vaccines are highly effective in preventing death.