COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Some UCHealth employees tell 13 Investigates they are furious with the health care system's new requirement for them to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
UCHealth announced on Wednesday that employees that don't get vaccinated by October 1 could be fired.
Employees who wish to remain anonymous said they don't believe they should be mandated to get a vaccine that is not fully approved by the FDA. One employee tells 13 Investigates the large health care system is taking away their power and rights by not giving them a choice if they want to keep their jobs.
“Vaccination is incredibly important for us to utilize," Dr. Michelle Barron, with UCHealth, told our partners at 9News.
If employees aren't vaccinated by September 3, they will receive notice of disciplinary action. 85% of UCHealth employees across the state are already fully vaccinated, according to a spokesperson.
UCHealth employees can apply for a medical or religious vaccine exemption. If an employee is granted that exemption by the hospital system they will be required to wear a mask and get a COVID-19 test weekly.
“I anticipate there will be some individuals that may choose to make alternative plans for what they do but we’re hoping that they understand the intent at the end of the day is for their safety," Barron said.
A similar vaccine requirement at a hospital in Houston sparked protests in June. 153 people were fired or quite from the Texas hospital after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The former employees are currently appealing a judge's decision to dismiss their lawsuit against the hospital.
Whitney Traylor, a legal expert for 9 News, said he expects a similar lawsuit to be filed
“These employees are in Colorado at least. If they don’t have a contract, which most employees don’t, they’re at the will of employees. Now, that doesn’t mean that they can be fired for any old reason. The catch 22 is that the employer has to provide a safe environment," Traylor explained.
UCHealth is not the only Colorado hospital that will require employee vaccinations.
Denver Health and Banner Health are mandating its employees get the shot by November 1.
Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center also said their health care personnel are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.