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Debate over businesses requiring vaccines grows as vaccinations rates slow

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:56 AM EDT
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HOUSTON (CNN) - At some businesses, it’s either get vaccinated or get suspended from work, and possibly even fired.

Several health care workers at a hospital in Houston chose the latter and joined supporters in protest Monday night.

Their case demonstrates the growing debate over personal rights versus public safety.

“We should be allowed to make our own decisions,” Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse, said.

Staffers at Houston Methodist Hospital had until Monday to get vaccinated.

More than 100 employees filed a lawsuit last month, citing concerns over the vaccine being authorized for emergency use, instead of full FDA approval.

Dr. Marc Boom, the hospital’s chief executive, pushed back with a statement.

“We’re not making anybody take the vaccine. What we’re saying is that in order to care for our patients and work at our institutions, you have to have the vaccine. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, you can exercise that choice and you can move someplace else,” Boom said.

The decision to require vaccines is playing out in businesses large and small nationwide.

Norwegian Cruise Line is ready to set sail from Miami in August, but all passengers must be fully vaccinated.

The cruise line’s decision is a direct challenge to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has barred Florida businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.

Bruce Springsteen is back on Broadway at the end of the month, with tickets being sold to those who are fully vaccinated, as New York City marks a vaccine milestone.

“More vaccinations have been given then there are people in New York City, that’s a great sign,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Statewide, nearly 70% of adult New Yorkers have had at least one shot.

It’s a contrast to other states, such as West Virginia, where barely 50% have gotten at least one dose.

“I just don’t get it. I really don’t get it. We’ve got to get vaccinated, that’s all there is to it,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds fully vaccinated people are more than 91% protected from infection. And even if they are infected, their symptoms are milder and they’re less likely to spread the disease.

Meantime, the administration is tempering expectations on its looming goal to get at least one shot in 70% of adults.

Data published Monday by the CDC says 13 states have reached the Biden administration’s goal of having 70% of adults with at least COVID-19 shot by July 4.

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