Private Duty

Texas Court Rules Vaccine Mandates Are Legal

Texas’ Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is granted the authority to set immunization requirements by the Texas Education Code, Chapter 38. If you attended school from grades K-12, then you are familiar with these mandatory vaccines, e.g., measles, tuberculosis, tetanus, and polio. Vaccine mandates didn’t start with COVID-19, and they won’t end there, either.

The Mandate Scaries

Not too long ago, Houston Methodist Hospital made headlines across the nation for being the first hospital to require its employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk being let go. Later, 117 of its over 26,000 employees made headlines for refusing to comply with the hospital’s vaccination mandate as the previously set compliance deadline of June 7, 2021, crept closer. Now, a federal district judge has dismissed the case, stating Houston Methodist’s vaccine requirement is legal and enforceable.

Over 99 percent of Houston Methodist’s employees have complied and are now fully vaccinated, but the unvaccinated claim such a mandate is illegal per the Nuremberg Code. The code is an internationally recognized set of medical standards that was created following World War II’s atrocious experiments performed on prisoners by Nazis (such as those performed by Josef Mengele) and classifies experimentation on human subjects without consent as war crimes.

Is Vaccine an Experiment?

The Nuremberg Code serves as the international standard for what crimes against humanity may look like in the name of medical advancement. It was created as a result of atrocities such as open brain surgery on conscious patients, sterilization, and artificial insemination of unwilling victims.

The vaccine isn’t a crime against humanity, nor is it experimentation. The disgruntled employees at Houston Methodist Hospital claim the mandate subjects them to experimentation and compare themselves to “guinea pigs.” Clinical trials for both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines have already been conducted, however, with tens of thousands of willing participants. Following those studies and clinical trials, the vaccines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use. Both Pfizer and Moderna have also applied for full FDA approval.

Unlike the victims of the Nazi experiments, all employees are free to decline the vaccine. They may refuse to consent and seek employment elsewhere, just as any other employee is free not to perform his duties or comply with a company’s policies. Such actions, however, would likely also lead to termination. Texas is an at-will state, and therefore, unless there is a contract stating otherwise, employers and employees can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for no reason at all.

Vaccines Are in Society’s Best Interest

The federal judge in this case made it clear public policy weighs in favor or Houston Methodist Hospital. Every law and court decision is made with one main question in mind: What is in the best interest of society?

Hospitals are in the business of saving lives, and that goal can quickly be derailed when their extensively trained staff is falling ill from a preventable disease. Hospitals need staff to treat sick patients. Following that logic, it shouldn’t come as a surprise a hospital would require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and protect patients and employees alike.

Vaccine mandates, immunization requirements, and inoculation prerequisites have been around in the United States since the mid-1800s, when Massachusetts became the first state to require smallpox vaccinations in schools. Following years of similar provisions in handbooks, statutes, and case law, the United States has essentially eradicated the measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, and more.

Although the employees are free to appeal the court’s ruling, the law disagrees with their arguments, and more employers will likely follow in Houston Methodist’s footsteps. Such policies aren’t put in place to make employees “guinea pigs” but, rather, to ensure the safety of all employees, employers, clients, students, patients, and society.

Jacob M. Monty is an attorney with Monty & Ramirez LLP in Houston, Texas. You can reach him at jmonty@montyramirezlaw.com.