Texas nurse fired for declining vaccination

Michelle Fuentes was a nurse at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas for more than a decade. That all changed this month after she responded to a demand from the administration that all employees be vaccinated against COVID. Fuentes was honest with them and informed the administration that she preferred to wait until all of the clinical trials were complete and full FDA authorization had been given. She requested an exemption in keeping with a policy that had been established at the hospital wherein anyone could request such an exemption for either medical or religious reasons. Her request was denied and she was compelled to submit her two weeks notice. But after speaking to the local press about the situation, she wasn’t even allowed to finish her final two weeks and was escorted out of the hospital. (CBS Dallas – Ft Worth)

Texas nurse Michelle Fuentes told KRIV-TV that she was terminated after working ten years at Houston Methodist Hospital for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I knew that the date was looming over my head of me to get the vaccine and we were constantly being pressured and pressured,” Michelle Fuentes told the television station.

According to their report, at the start of April, Houston Methodist announced it would require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by June 7. However, the hospital system asked employees who would not get the vaccine to submit documentation for consideration for a medical or religious exemption by May 3.

The hospital’s response as to why Fuentes’ request was not granted was short and to the point. “Not all exemptions are granted.”

The sticking point with this story is that Michelle Fuentes is not an anti-vaxxer. Her own medical records at the hospital show that she’s gotten the flu vaccine every year for quite a while and she’s had other vaccinations as well. She was simply uneasy with some of the reports about these new COVID vaccines and wanted to wait until further testing was complete.

Fuentes even volunteered to switch assignments and work in the COVID ward. After all, she couldn’t infect someone who was already infected, right? And being relatively young and healthy, even if she caught the virus from one of her patients she almost certainly would have survived and been able to return to work with natural antibodies of her own.

What we seem to be seeing here is a private-sector version of the all-or-nothing attitude taken by too many state and municipal governments. It’s our way or the highway, and Michelle Fuentes was told to hit the road. When businesses of any type are crafting policies to deal with the novel coronavirus, there needs to be at least some reasonable measure of flexibility built into them. But most of the time that doesn’t seem to be the case.

It turns out that Fuentes isn’t alone. One of her colleagues at Houston Methodist by the name of Jennifer Bridges is suing the hospital over the policy. Another nurse at a Pennsylvania behavioral health center was also shown the door after opting to wait before getting vaccinated. And multiple workers at a Wisconsin nursing home were all laid off after failing to be vaccinated, with their employer telling them vaccinations were “a requirement for all staff.”

These are nurses and other healthcare workers. They should presumably be among the most well-informed people in the country when it comes to medical information. They are also in short supply in many places. Surely there is a way to work out some sort of accommodation without just ending people’s careers.

David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022