New Jersey’s largest hospital system has fired six senior health workers for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
RWJBarnabas Health, which has 11 acute care hospitals in the Garden State, announced the news in a statement on Wednesday.
In May, the private company required that all ‘supervisory or higher level’ staff be fully vaccinated by June 30.
In Wednesday’s statement – which was first obtained by ABC news – RWJBarnabas Health states that a ‘vast majority’ of the staff are abiding by that order.
“As of July 14, 2,979 staff members, or 99.7 percent, who are at the supervisor level and above, have been fully vaccinated or have received medical and religious exemptions or a deferment,” the company said.
‘Unfortunately, six employees at board level and above have not adhered to the mandate and are no longer employees of RWJBH according to our policy.’
The identities of the six workers have not been released.
New Jersey’s largest hospital system, RWJBarnabas Health, has fired six senior health workers for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The healthcare company encourages all of its 35,000 employees to get vaccinated. They’ve been distributing flyers about the vaccines for the past few months
RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer, with more than 35,000 employees, many of whom do not work directly with sick patients.
But the company now says they have plans to require all hospital staff to be vaccinated. They will announce a vaccine deadline for those workers “in the coming days.”
Meanwhile, other private hospital systems in New Jersey don’t enforce the same rules.
Atlantic Health System, which serves 11 New Jersey counties, said: NJ.com that they “give employees the choice of whether or not to vaccinate.” The company said most chose to do so.
“As of today, more than 75 percent of team members at Atlantic Health System have received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19, and that is without committing our team members to receive it,” a company executive told the publication on July 1. .
RWJBarnabas Health has 11 acute care hospitals including RWJ University Hospital in Rahway
The move has divided community members, with many fearing they could contract the highly contagious Delta strain of COVID-19 if they come into contact with an unvaccinated doctor or nurse while being treated for an unrelated problem. .
COVID cases across New Jersey are rising as the variant spreads. On Wednesday, the state reported 669 new COVID cases — a 165 percent increase from just two weeks ago.
Gov. Phil Murphy says a large majority of those who test positive have not been vaccinated.
“We probably have 350 people in our hospital,” he said NBC Wednesday.
“I dare say they are all unvaccinated… The variants are all over our state. I would beg people to get vaccinated, and if they do, it doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID. But it means, overwhelmingly, that you stay out of the hospital and please God to stay alive.”
As of Wednesday, 58 percent of New Jersey residents had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
But while vaccines can be effective in preventing transmission and serious illness, many people across the country are saying it’s wrong for companies to force their employees to take the injections — even if that company is in the healthcare industry.
In May, 117 unvaccinated employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital system filed a lawsuit against the Texas health care company after it required employees to be immunized.
The complaint read: “Methodist Hospital forces its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition of continued employment.”
It also claimed that the vaccine mandate “requires the worker to subject himself to medical experimentation as a condition of feeding his family.”
However, the U.S. district judge dismissed the lawsuit last month, stating, “Methodist is trying to save lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus.”
“It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer. Bridges [an employee who filed the lawsuit] can freely choose to accept or decline a COVID-19 vaccine; but if she refuses, she should just go and work somewhere else.”