HealthcareLocal NewsMedical Workers, Doctors Hold Rally Protesting Houston Hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

More than 100 attended a protest in front of Houston Methodist Hospital over vaccine mandates, while counter-protestors from the Houston Socialist Movement decried anti-vaxxers as “fascists.”
June 29, 2021
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Registered nurse Kim Mikeska has worked for Houston Methodist Hospital for 12 years but says she expects to be suspended and terminated in July.

Having been infected with COVID-19 earlier this year, Mikeska was one of several hundred employees who were granted a deferral for complying with the hospital’s vaccine mandate deadline of June 7, 2021. Her deferral expires on July 6, however, and she is adamant that she will not get the vaccine because it does not make sense for her medically.

“We do not vaccinate people for diseases they’ve already had,” explained Mikeska. “We don’t give polio vaccines to individuals who’ve already had polio.” 

Last Saturday, Mikeska joined a crowd of nearly 200 medical workers, doctors, and their supporters for a protest in front of the hospital’s main campus in Houston. She said while her case was different from those who had not been infected, she was there to support medical freedom for others.

“I’m not arguing about the validity or invalidity of the vaccine. I am arguing that I get to choose what goes in my body. I am fighting for the right of every American to choose whether they want the vaccine.”

The Texan Tumbler

Houston Methodist has terminated employees who refuse to receive the emergency use authorized (EUA) vaccine, including doctors, and confirmed to The Texan that doctors who are no longer on staff will also no longer be permitted to lease space for their private practices in buildings owned by the hospital.

Dr. Richard Urso, one of three physicians who spoke Saturday, agreed with Mikeska’s stance on vaccines for those who have already recovered from the virus and expressed another concern.

“COVID recovered individuals can donate convalescent plasma to newly infected patients, but if vaccinated, then they cannot donate their plasma,” he told The Texan. “Why would we take this treatment resource away?”

Urso is an ophthalmologist who has also studied biochemistry, worked in culture tissue labs, and developed a patented and FDA-approved drug.  Earlier this year he testified before the Texas Senate’s Committee on Health & Human Services about COVID-19 treatments and vaccine data.

In his comments, Urso told the crowd that the “one-size-fits-all approach” to COVID-19 vaccination was not data-driven and not appropriate.

In addition to eliminating convalescent plasma therapy, Urso cited the growing evidence confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control of a link between the vaccines and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, in younger patients. He also mentioned a Japanese study indicating that the lipid nanoparticles from the vaccines did show up in the ovaries and other organs and that the long-term effects were still unknown.

He clarified that he was not opposed to other vaccinations and that his entire family had all other recommended vaccines, but he believes the public should be given accurate data about the new COVID-19 vaccinations and be allowed to decide for themselves.

Citing a Lancet study, he explained that the data on “absolute risk” means that the COVID-19 vaccines offer a “one percent benefit,” but have led to what he calls “the most deadly vaccine rollout in history” due to more than 6,000 post-vaccine deaths in the United States and 15,000 in Europe.

“We don’t need to vaccinate every person.”

A handful of counter-protestors with signs identifying themselves as members of the “Houston Socialist Movement” repeatedly attempted to interrupt speakers, calling those opposed to the vaccine mandate “fascists.”

Counter protestors from the Houston Socialist Movement. (The Texan/Holly Hansen)

At one point, a man wearing a “smash fascism” t-shirt with a swastika unplugged a generator for the rally sound system. Houston police quickly moved the counter-group across the street and prevented any further physical mingling between the two camps, but the Houston Socialists continued to shout slogans using bullhorns during the rally.

Dr. Angelina Farella told the crowd that her own mother had survived a Nazi concentration camp before she was freed by U.S. troops in World War II. 

“I want you people across the street to pay attention to what I have to say, my friends,” said Farella. “My mother was a child in a concentration camp in Germany, and you offend me wearing a swastika on your flippin’ shirt.”

“God bless America; it saved my mother.”

Many attendees at the rally carried U.S. flags and after a group prayer, a young woman led the crowd in singing the National Anthem.

The patriotic theme carried over into the speakers’ comments with Dr. Shelley Cole, an OB-GYN and member of America’s Frontline Doctors, reminding the crowd that “This is the United States of America.”

Cole also pointed out that the hospital and vaccine manufacturers were mostly shielded from legal action over adverse effects, and added that citizens could no longer trust the media to accurately report the truth about the vaccines or treatments for the virus.

Last week, former FOX 26 Houston reporter Ivory Hecker published a video report on one story she says was quashed by her network. In her report, Hecker interviews a well-respected doctor with a significant success rate in treating COVID-19 patients, partially using hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, treatments opposed by the World Health Organization.

Hecker also notes that “had there been an existing known safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, emergency use authorization of a vaccine for the virus would be prohibited by law.”

In her comments, Dr. Cole said that hospitals, universities, and pharmacies were receiving royalties for the COVID-19 vaccines and that important data was being ignored.

“Profit-driven pharma is driving our science.”

A group of employees is suing Houston Methodist over the mandate, and the case is now under review on an appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court. Lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges, who also spoke Saturday vowed the group would fight the case to the Supreme Court.

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Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.