In a lawsuit filed against the Mass General Brigham hospital system, eight hospital workers say they're against receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and shouldn't be forced into it because they have exemptions based on religion and disabilities.
They argue they should be accommodated and they should not be retaliated against.
"The history of vaccine mandates by employers has been rather bumpy," said former UMass Amherst professor Devon Greyson. "Sometimes it's been well accepted, often in health professions."
Greyson has studied vaccine hesitancy and teaches at the University of British Columbia.
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"Employer vaccine mandates do have quite high compliance among employees," said Greyson. "We know that some may not be happy about it, but most of these people will eventually comply."
Mass General Brigham has not yet responded to a request for comment.
In the lawsuit, attorneys for the eight hospital employees argue that the "Plaintiffs are forced with the 'impossible choice' to forsake their religious convictions, or, in the case of the disability discrimination plaintiffs, potentially put themselves in danger of physical harm" if they have to get vaccinated.
The lawsuit says more than 200 employees have been denied a vaccine exemption by the hospital system.
"If you're working in a hospital, you have to be prepared to take the necessary measures to protect the vulnerable people with whom you'll come in contact," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College.
"I think they're exercising their rights if they choose not to get the vaccine," he said. "But they're being irresponsible if they come to work and they're unvaccinated."
Workers who are part of this lawsuit fear they could be fired on Nov. 5 if they haven't gotten vaccinated.