Unvaccinated pediatric doctor defies peers, says his status does not endanger patients

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A pediatric doctor in Indianapolis who was placed on leave for not complying with his hospital’s vaccine mandate says he is not putting children at risk by refusing the coronavirus vaccine. 

“Well, first I would say I am following the science,” Dr. Paul Halczenko told News 8 when asked his response to people who call his decision to not get vaccinated “irresponsible” or an instance of a doctor not “following the science.” 

“The preponderance of the evidence suggests and even as we know now — not necessarily at the time of the lawsuit, but certainly in the intervening weeks and months — that vaccination does not actually prevent transmission. So, the best protection that I can offer to my patients is to use the personal protective equipment and the other measures that are employed by health care workers across the world and have been demonstrated to be effective.”

Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital (Google Maps)
(Google  Maps)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as other health leaders, pushed for all health care workers and teachers to be mandated to get vaccinated over the summer, before such requirements were put in place. He told people in August who are around children to get the vaccine because “you’ve got to do whatever you can to protect them. And if you’re eligible to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.”

FILE – Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. U.S. health officials said Sunday, Dec. 5 that while the omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations. President Joe Biden’s chief medial adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN’s "State of the Union" that scientists need more information before drawing conclusion’s about omicron’s severity. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) 

Halczenko began working at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent in 2012, but was placed on leave in November after not complying with a vaccine mandate.

He sued to block the mandate, News 8 reported, but a federal judge refused to reinstate him at the hospital last week.

The judge found Halczenko “failed to make a ‘substantial showing’ of irreparable injury” that would justify him being reinstated through a temporary injunction, according to the outlet. The judge added that any “claimed reputational injury—and corresponding impediment to finding a comparable job—would arise from the undisputed, truthful fact that Dr. Halczenko’s employment was terminated because he did not get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

The hospital said in December it would not enforce the vaccine mandate on all employees. Four other employees who joined Halczenko in the lawsuit were reinstated, News 8 reported. 

Ascension did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment if Halczenko was officially fired on Tuesday, per the hospital’s original vaccine mandate.  

Halczenko said his decision to not get vaccinated was based on religious reasons. 

“Was making this decision to stand up for religious liberty and to stand for God’s will, was that worth it? That is always worth it. Ultimately, I have to answer to God,” he told the outlet. 

Young mother of small hospitalized girl talking to doctor in hospital, midsection.

Halczenko is among thousands of health care workers across the country who lost their jobs over vaccine mandates last year. In New York, more than 30,000 health care workers alone were fired following the state’s mandate. The governor called in the National Guard last month to help bolster nursing homes amid staffing shortages and the spike in cases. 

Last month, some hospitals in Ohio halted their vaccine mandates after a judge’s injuction and as the omicron variant of the virus surged. 

And in Rhode Island, the state’s department of health updated its guidance to allow COVID-positive health care workers to continue working if they have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and if their hospital is facing a staffing crisis. The update came after the CDC’s revision on quarantine and isolation guidance for health care workers.

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