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The Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center campus in Houston, Texas. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Houston Methodist Hospital is being sued by 117 employees who allege its policy requiring all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is unlawful, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: The lawsuit and similar legal challenges "could test whether employers can require employee vaccinations as the country navigates out of a pandemic that has killed nearly 600,000 Americans," WashPost notes.

  • The hospital has said it will fire workers who decline to get vaccinated before a June 7 deadline, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Of note: The federal government said Friday it is legal for companies to require workers to get coronavirus vaccines.

Details: The employees allege in the suit, filed Friday, that the hospital is "forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment," per Bloomberg.

  • "It is a severe and blatant violation of the Nuremberg Code and the public policy of the state of Texas," the suit alleges, in reference to a code created to protect people from undergoing cruel treatment like that experienced by Nazi prisoners during World War II.

What they're saying: The Houston Methodist Hospital said in a statement to news outlets it is "legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009."

"The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental. More than 165 million people in the U.S. alone have received vaccines against COVID-19, and this has resulted in the lowest numbers of infections in our country and in the Houston region in more than a year."

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

New York City revives vaccine passports

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New York City yesterday became the first city in the U.S. to require proof of coronavirus vaccination for indoor dining and other leisure activities, a measure popular among public health experts but previously squashed by political backlash to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Employers and now local governments are starting to ensure that remaining unvaccinated will have consequences for everyday life, testing the resolve of those who say nothing could persuade them to get a shot.

Aug 3, 2021 - Health

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging to last summer's levels

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging once again, threatening to overburden some local health care systems just as badly as the waves that hit last spring and summer.

Why it matters: It's hard to argue that a person's vaccination status doesn't impact anyone but themselves when hospitals around the country are filling up.

Aug 3, 2021 - Health

Tyson Foods mandates COVID vaccines for all U.S. employees

A Tyson Foods Inc. facility stands in Lexington, Nebraska, U.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. Photo: Dan Brouillette/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tyson Foods will require all of its employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the company said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The move makes Tyson Foods the largest U.S. food company — with 139,000 team members — to require vaccinations among all its employees.