Bowing to the threat of legal action against it, one Alabama hospital has rescinded its requirement that all staff be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
UAB Hospital in Birmingham said it will wait to learn how the federal vaccine mandates announced by President Joe Biden play out before imposing any requirement, according to WBRC-TV.
Last week, the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty said the hospital was violating state law, according to Al.com.
The letter said the state’s ban on vaccine passports means government entities cannot require anyone to disclose vaccine information.
“As the Supreme Court of Alabama has recognized, UAB Hospital is a state-run hospital,” the letter said.
“Consequently, UAB Hospital may not require its employees to disclose whether they have been vaccinated or not. Likewise, the Alabama Attorney General has examined the law and concluded that ‘no government, school, or business in Alabama may demand that a constituent, or customer, respectively, be vaccinated for COVID-19 or show proof of his or her vaccination for COVID-19,’” the letter said.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall also questioned the legality of the Biden administration mandate, saying he had received complaints about privacy violations, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
“The Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from healthcare employees who believe their COVID-19 immunization status was obtained by their employers through the ImmPRINT registry for the purpose of verifying compliance with the employer’s immunization requirement,” Marshall said, referring to a statewide immunization database.
“In several of those cases, a shared employer specifically acknowledged accessing the state immunization database for this purpose. This privacy violation is unlawful,” he said.
Marshall said other health care providers should also take note and not be asking employees about their immunization status.
“The vaccine mandate is unprecedented in its audacity and unlawful in its application,” Marshall said. “The Biden administration knows this full well. The State of Alabama will not allow such an authoritarian power grab to go unchecked.”
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said voluntary efforts have produced vaccination rates of 50 percent to 80 percent depending upon the facility.
“It’s not a small issue if we have unvaccinated employees,” Williamson said. “Hospitals have successfully navigated the waters of getting people vaccinated and for the most part, they have been able to do it without mandates.”
“The UAB Health System’s policy requiring COVID vaccines for its workers was implemented in August prior to the announcement of forthcoming federal directives,” it said.
“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 noted that a voluntary incentive that rewards employees who get vaccinated with $400 remains in place.