Utah healthcare workers respond to vaccine mandate enforcement pause

Local News

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Amid the vaccine mandate pause, leaders from Intermountain Healthcare are reporting 95% of caregivers have complied with the federal government requirement, but those in the 5% against it, tell ABC4 they’re hoping to see a change.

ABC4’s Southern Utah Correspondent, Jordan Verdadeiro spoke to caregivers from Intermountain early in November who say they believe a vaccine mandate is unconstitutional. She met with them again Thursday and while they are relieved the mandate is temporarily paused, they still have concerns.

“I don’t think it’s right and I feel I must stand for what I believe is right,” says Bridget Penick.

Bridget Penick has been a nurse practitioner with Intermountain Healthcare for 22 years. She says she hasn’t been scheduled after refusing to follow the vaccine requirement despite Intermountain stating a temporary pause of suspension for caregivers Wednesday.

“I won’t quit and I don’t think anybody should quit, if anything somebody’s going to need to fire you and if they do fire you it is going to be a wrongful discharge lawsuit,” says Penick.

According to a release from Intermountain, while they are temporarily pausing enforcement of the federal requirement amid nationwide lawsuits, they are still asking caregivers to get vaccinated or provide a medical or religious exemption.

“It is absolute BS to have to have an exemption to something that is illegal in the first place,” says Michelle Tanner.

Michelle Tanner is a nurse practitioner affiliated with Intermountain and says she’s also been removed from the schedule.

“I have adamantly refused to get a vaccine that I have natural immunity to, they are ignoring that part of the science, with this vaccine what we’re seeing is it decreases severity of symptoms for the individual receiving the vaccine, we are not seeing proof that it is massively decreasing people from contracting or transmitting COVID,” says Tanner.

These caregivers say they want to see Intermountain, along with other companies required to follow the federal regulations, give employees options.

“Let them check weekly, or check antibodies, or accept natural immunity, there’s not just one answer, you must have the vaccine, that’s just not American!” Penick adds.

Intermountain Healthcare’s full statement on the pause of COVID vaccine requirements for caregivers :

While awaiting the outcome of national litigation regarding government requirements for COVID vaccinations for caregivers, we and other major Utah healthcare providers (including MountainStar Healthcare/HCA), are temporarily pausing enforcement of the vaccine requirement for caregivers until there is clearer direction from the courts. 

Before this pause, 95% of our caregivers had complied with the government requirement. 

We have been actively monitoring lawsuits filed for these regulations and evaluating how they impact us. Yesterday, November 30, a federal court issued a nationwide stay for the CMS regulation. This means the CMS mandate has been put on hold and is currently not enforceable against any healthcare providers until further review by the appellate courts. 

Additionally, there is pending litigation on the Federal Contractor mandate, including a case that involves Utah and Idaho. Because of this, we are temporarily pausing enforcement of the federal requirement – which includes suspension for lack of adherence – until we have clearer direction from the courts.

We continue to encourage all remaining unvaccinated caregivers to get vaccinated for COVID.

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