Workers sue Louisiana health system to block vaccine mandate



NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A small number of employees in Louisiana’s largest healthcare system are taking legal action to block the requirement to get COVID-19 shots in order to keep their jobs.

The lawsuits in Louisiana state district courts on Tuesday challenge Ochsner Health’s mandate that all employees be vaccinated by October 29.

On Friday, the system added another reason for getting the vaccines: because COVID hospitalizations are so expensive and most inpatients have not been vaccinated, unvaccinated spouses and household partners from the health insurance plan. ‘Ochsner will be billed an additional $ 200 per month.

“This threat produced the opposite of its intended result; people get mad at bullying, ”Jimmy Faircloth, the employee lawyer, said in a press release.

“Every day we get more and more calls and emails from employees across the state who are forced to choose between taking drugs they don’t want and feeding their families,” Faircloth said. . “It is an illegal forced choice; not a free choice.

Ochsner was preparing a response, spokeswoman Katie Fauquier said on Wednesday.

The vast majority of Ochsner’s 32,000 employees in Louisiana and part of Mississippi, including more than 1,600 doctors, are already vaccinated. As of last week, 82% of its employees were fully immunized, with doctors at 98%.

The Caddo Parish lawsuit named 39 employees as plaintiffs; nine employees were registered as complainants in the parish of Ouachita.

Louisiana’s constitution and laws guarantee citizens the right to decide their medical treatment, and the courts have upheld that right, according to the lawsuits. They also claim that COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent the transmission of the disease.

Studies around the world have shown that fully vaccinated people are less likely to catch – and therefore transmit – the virus than those who are not vaccinated. And injections are very effective in preventing fully vaccinated people who catch the virus from being hospitalized or dying.

People who are not fully vaccinated account for 80% of current COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana and 85% of cases from September 23 to 29, according to the state Department of Health.

In Baton Rouge, Governor John Bel Edwards received his Pfizer booster shot and flu shot on Wednesday at a public event at a hospital.

Although Edwards is 55, his office said he was receiving a recall because he was in a “high risk” job.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a booster for people 65 years and older and people 18 years and older who have certain medical conditions or who work in environments that put them at greater risk of contract COVID-19.

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