More than 100 staff members at Houston Methodist Hospital who were fired after they refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19 appealed a judge’s ruling upholding the hospital’s right to terminate their employment. “We are going to most likely go all the way up to the Supreme Court,” Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by 117 former employees of the hospital, told Yahoo News.
MARQUISE FRANCIS: After weeks of taking a stand against Houston Methodist Hospital's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Jennifer Bridges, the nurse at the center of a now federal lawsuit, walked out of Methodist Hospital Baytown for the last time.
JENNIFER BRIDGES: I cried the whole way out.
MARQUISE FRANCIS: Waiting for her was a crowd of supporters and dozens of nurses who are losing their jobs too for declining to roll up their sleeves for the vaccine.
JENNIFER BRIDGES: My name's Jennifer Bridges. I'm a registered nurse. I was employed with Houston Methodist for about seven years and just got terminated last week.
MARQUISE FRANCIS: You are now the main plaintiff on a lawsuit against the hospital because you refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine. And you believe every person should be able to make the right choice for themselves. So how did it go from choice to now you had to get another job?
JENNIFER BRIDGES: This whole thing originated just because nobody wanted to be forced to do this. Like, even this huge amount of people that took the shot, many of them-- they're not talking about this-- did it against their will. I literally had hundreds and hundreds of employees reaching out to me just crying, upset that they couldn't afford to lose their job. So they took it just mainly to keep their job.
LEANA WEN: I'm Dr. Leana Wen. I'm an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. The first responsibility of doctors, nurses, and health care professionals is to safeguard the health and well-being of our patients. This is the reason why hospitals have long required for health care providers to receive vaccines. We routinely receive every year the influenza vaccine. That's mandatory. We are required to have other vaccines like chicken pox, mumps, measles, hepatitis, and all kinds of things. The COVID vaccine should be no different because it is our responsibility to prevent ourselves from getting ill and from spreading the disease to others.
JENNIFER BRIDGES: The risk versus the benefit just do not weigh out. Majority of the public only has a 1% chance of dying from this virus. So why take a vaccine just to protect themselves when you have a risk of-- hundreds and hundreds of people are seeing this, anything from numbness to seizures, paralysis, blood clots, even death.
LEANA WEN: These COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. The benefits of the vaccines have been determined to far outweigh any potential rare and small risk. And so it, again, is extremely important for health care providers to follow the science, to listen to what our federal regulatory agencies and virtually every major medical society has said, which is that these vaccines are safe and effective.
They protect the individual. They also protect others around us as well. And in this case, they safeguard the health and well-being of our most vulnerable patients, the people who it is our job to serve and protect.