The University of Alabama at Birmingham has announced it will no longer require its employees to get the COVID vaccine, a surprising 180-degree turn from its previous stance on vaccine mandates.
Officials at the university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama said that they decided to reverse the policy while waiting for federal guidance following President Joe Biden's announcement on new nationwide vaccine mandates that require companies with 100 or more employees to require inoculation against COVID.
According to Faithwire, Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Ron Williamson defended the hospital's decision, saying that most hospitals in the region have not implemented a vaccine mandate. He added that the UAB center was just one of the few healthcare institutions that established a vaccine mandate. Dr. Williamson underscored how hospital staff already have high vaccination rates falling between 50% to 80% of workers fully vaccinated against COVID, depending on the hospital.
Dr. Williamson admitted that vaccination helps ease staffing problems but said a hospital-level vaccine mandate was necessary. UAB continues to offer $400 to staff who get vaccinated against COVID.
Dr. Williamson argued that it was "not a small issue" if the Alabama hospital had unvaccinated employees, adding that other hospitals have "navigated the waters of getting people vaccinated" and had "for the most part...been able to do it without mandates."
According to the Alabama hospital's official statement, the initial vaccine mandate was implemented in August, before the Biden administration released new federal directives. The statement read, "President Biden issued an executive order Sept. 9 indicating that federal rules and regulations will be issued in the coming weeks that will require COVID vaccines for workers at health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid dollars. Because UAB Health System must follow federal law, UAB Health System will remove its vaccine policy at this time."
"UAB Health System will wait for the detailed federal guidance to develop a replacement vaccine policy in order to ensure full compliance with federal law," the statement continued. "The safety of our patients, employees, friends, and families is of the utmost importance."
Alabama Public Radio reported that the state is joining two dozen other Republican states in declaring their eagerness to file a case against the White House mandate that requires businesses with 100 employees or more to get the COVID vaccine. In fact, this week, Alabama legislators made a move to protect the rights of their constituents not to get the COVID vaccine.
ABC 3340 News reported that three Alabama legislators have proposed a bill that empowers workers to file a case against their employers for any adverse reaction they may experience from getting the COVID vaccine mandated by their job. Alabama House Bill 16, which was proposed by Representatives Tommy Hanes, Andrew Sorrell and Arnold Mooney, states that employees or their families can take legal action against any employers if they experience adverse reactions or die after getting inoculated with the employer-mandated COVID vaccine.
"The vaccine mandate is unprecedented in its audacity and unlawful in its application," the state's Attorney General Steve Marshall said last week, as reported by the Alabama Local News. "The Biden administration knows this fully well. The State of Alabama will not allow such an authoritarian power grab to go unchecked."