Houston Methodist gives ultimatum to get vaccinated or find another job

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the days and weeks go by, some nurses at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital are dreading what's to come. The hospital system is requiring staff members to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Empoyees must comply by the June 7 deadline or face losing their jobs.

"There's so many 'What ifs?' out there," said a nurse, who wished to remain anonymous. "June 7 is the deadline. It's 'take the vaccine' or 'pack up your bags.'"

The nurse started a petition in hopes of opting out of the mandatory vaccine requirement for all staff at Houston Methodist.

"We're not saying we'll never get it, we just want more time," said the nurse. "We want more research. We want it FDA approved, thoroughly, before we actually put it in our body."

She said right now, a group of staff at her hospital is too afraid to get the vaccine, but they're even more worried about losing their job. They feel getting the vaccine should be a choice.

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"I'm basically fighting for everybody that's too scared to speak up right now," she said.

Meanwhile, legal analyst Steve Shellist said quite frankly, the nurses don't have a lot of rights, especially during a pandemic. He said the law is pretty clear, and the only exceptions include religious or health reasons.

"The hospital has a right to say, 'If you're going to be in close contact with patients and other medical providers, you need to get a vaccine, and if you can't, you are not going to work here,'" he explained.

The president and CEO of Houston Methodist, Dr. Marc Boom, said they owe it to its patients to put them first and make them feel safe, so the vaccine is 100% mandatory. Boom said the hospital stands by its decision and believes it's 100% safe and the best option.

Houston Methodist recently held a town hall for its employees in order to ease fears and answer questions.

"Working in health care is a privilege," said Boom. "With privilege comes responsibility."

As for the nurse, she said she takes her job seriously, but she just wants to take the vaccine on her own terms when she is ready.

"If anyone would like to hire a good nurse, I would be glad to take on another job," she said.

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