Cincinnati area hospital systems sued over COVID-19 vaccination mandates

Workers have filed lawsuits to block COVID-19 vaccination requirements at six hospital systems in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The lawsuits, which name about 125 plaintiffs, say requiring employees to be vaccinated is unlawful and violates workers' constitutional right "to protect their bodily integrity," the newspaper reported.

Eric Deters, a spokesperson for Deters Law, which represents the plaintiffs, told the Enquirer the lawsuits are "about whether in the United States of America we have reached a point where Americans must choose between taking a dangerous and unknown vaccine or lose not just their jobs, but their lifelong careers."

Lawsuits were filed Aug. 23 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Ohio, against UC Health, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the Christ Hospital Health Network, Bon Secours Mercy Health and TriHealth. Another lawsuit was filed in Kentucky's Boone County against St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

UC Health, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the Christ Hospital Health Network and TriHealth, all based in Cincinnati, and Edgewood, Ky.-based St. Elizabeth are requiring their system workforces to be vaccinated. Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health is requiring the vaccinations in its Cincinnati and Kentucky markets (Irvine, Ky., and Paducah, Ky.).

Hospital systems across the U.S. have encouraged vaccination against COVID-19 and said the vaccines are safe and effective. The FDA granted full approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Aug. 23 for use in people ages 16 and older.

But protests have popped up organized by people who oppose the vaccination mandates, and other lawsuits have been filed related to vaccination requirements. 

Representatives for Cincinnati Children's, Bon Secours and St. Elizabeth declined comment to FOX19, citing pending litigation.

The Ohio and Kentucky hospital associations told Becker's they could not comment specifically about the lawsuits, since they are not named, but continue to support hospitals that require their workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

The plaintiffs seek class-action status and to block the hospital systems from "forcing, ordering and/or requiring" vaccinations, according to the Enquirer and FOX19.

Read the full Enquirer report here and the full FOX19 report here

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