Alabama hospital ends COVID vaccine requirement

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Like most medical facilities around the country, UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama recently implemented a policy requiring all workers to be vaccinated. That didn’t sit well with many of the workers and soon, outside groups were pursuing legal action to prevent employees from being terminated for that reason. In relatively short order, the courts began addressing similar complaints and following a state supreme court ruling and pressure from the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, the hospital lifted the vaccination mandate. This may wind up being a temporary remedy, however, because the hospital is sort of blaming Joe Biden for the reversal of its previous course. (Western Journal)

Bowing to the threat of legal action against it, one Alabama hospital has rescinded its requirement that all staff be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

UAB Hospital in Birmingham said it will wait to learn how the federal vaccine mandates announced by President Joe Biden play out before imposing any requirement, according to WBRC-TV.

Last week, the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty said the hospital was violating state law, according to Al.com.

The letter said the state’s ban on vaccine passports means government entities cannot require anyone to disclose vaccine information.

Alabama is one of the states that has passed a law forbidding vaccine passports and the state’s District Attorney has reviewed all of the related material and found everything to be in order. That put the hospital in violation of the state law and potentially open to legal action or lawsuits. It was also noted that the hospital is a state-run hospital, as opposed to some federal or military facility, so they would fall under state law.

Other disturbing facts were revealed in the course of this investigation. Complaints were raised that the hospital was accessing workers’ records to determine their vaccination status using the state’s ImmPRINT registry database and basing decisions about compliance off of that information. This was described as an unlawful privacy invasion, as patient records were not to be made public or used for anything beyond tracking purposes.

For their part, the hospital seems to be playing this off as if it was their idea to suspend the vaccination requirement. They’re saying that Joe Biden’s recent executive order and the announcement that new vaccination guidelines were forthcoming caused them to make the change. They claim to be waiting until the guidelines are released to ensure they are in compliance with federal law.

“President Biden issued an executive order Sept. 9 indicating that federal rules and regulations will be issued in the coming weeks that will require COVID vaccines for workers at health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid dollars.

“Because UAB Health System must follow federal law, UAB Health System will remove its vaccine policy at this time. UAB Health System will wait for the detailed federal guidance to develop a replacement vaccine policy in order to ensure full compliance with federal law.”

It sounds to me as if we could be heading toward a situation where federal law and state law will be in direct conflict. Normally we might lean toward the supremacy principle to find out which side prevails, but this sounds like one of those cases where the state courts may wind up having their decision taken up the ladder to the Supreme Court. If that’s the case, this tug-of-war could be grinding on for quite a while.