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Mass General Brigham wants to keep identities of most panelists who decided who got Covid-19 shot exemptions secret to protect them from threats or worse

Mass General Brigham yesterday asked a judge to let them shield the identities of most of the members of its panels that decided which employees got religious or medical exemptions from Covid-19 shots because of what's happened to officials in other states who stood up for the vaccines and other anti-Covid-19 measures.

The request comes in a lawsuit filed by seven now former hospital employees - and one who gave in and got a shot - who say the hospital violated their rights in declaring a Nov. 5 deadline for employees to get shots. Although courts - up to the US Supreme Court - have rejected the employees' request to order the hospital chain to reinstate them immediately, they are continuing their fight through a lawsuit, which could take months or years to resolve.

The state's largest hospital network made its identity shielding request in a filing yesterday that cited attempts to kidnap and possibly murder Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

People are using the internet, and social media platforms in particular, to share a deluge of information - and misinformation - about the COVID-19 vaccines. Some individuals with strong beliefs in favor of and against COVID vaccination use those same platforms to harass and threaten people. This is not a hypothetical concern – this is the next iteration of an ongoing vitriolic campaign that has been lodged by some, even against individuals who merely are doing their jobs to evaluate vaccination exemption requests and doing their best to help the country find its way through this deadly pandemic. Public health officials, elected officials, medical experts, and front-line medical providers, to name a few, have all been targeted. Earlier this year, in response to an increase in online threats and harassment directed at public health workers and their families, Colorado passed a law making it illegal for individuals to disseminate personal information about public health workers and their families online for the purpose of harassment. See Colorado Session Laws HB 21-1107 (2021). Social media comments about this very case already reflect fever-pitched and disturbing rhetoric such as analogies to Nazism, and reference to use of assault weapons.

After it announced its Nov. 5 deadline for full vaccination, Mass General Brigham set up two panels of hospital experts to consider exemption requests - one for medical requests and one for religious requests.

The names of panel members could come up during discovery - pre-trial questioning of potential witnesses - and publicly available court filings. The names of three MGB officials who led the exemption efforts have already been disclosed in court filings and hearings; the hospital did not seek to anonymize them. The hospital also asked a judge to let it hide the names of any employees who did get exemptions.

To the extent that opposing counsel needs information about the education and training of the MGB exemption decision-makers to prosecute this case, as is claimed, such information can be shared in such a way that does not reveal the identities of those individuals. MGB is not trying to be difficult - it is only trying to protect its employees from the very real threat of harassment that could follow if their identities were revealed to the Plaintiffs or the public.

More than 200 of Mass General Brigham's roughly 80,000 employees won exemptions, but the eight who sued - including a doctor and a registered nurse - were denied. All claimed religious exemptions - either because they objected to the use of cells derived from aborted fetuses decades ago to help test some vaccines or because they objected to what they claimed would be the vaccines' effects on their God-given DNA. Four also claimed medical exemptions.

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Comments

...should not be allowed. Your beliefs do not allow you to endanger others.

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you shouldn't be in medicine.

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Vanderbilt University's Vanderbilt Faculty and Staff Health & Wellness website has what looks like a comprehensive rundown of known religions and their policies about vaccinations. There are some surprises there.

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religions such as the Endtime Ministries and their death cult leader

Plano televangelist who linked pandemic to premarital sex dies of COVID-19

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/obituaries/2020/11/10/plano-televangelis...

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...if your religion objects to medicine, you shouldn't be in medicine.

I view religions as like private clubs. If you want to join the private club, you have to follow their rules, no matter how goofy they may seem to an outsider. The club says you must wear this hat, can't eat that food, may not associate with these people -- and within the clubhouse, that's what you have to do if you want to belong to the club.

Step outside the clubhouse, and none of that is worth a fart in a high wind. Your religion may teach that you, a male, may not associate with girls or women who are not related to you, but you don't get to demand that the woman driving the bus lose her job or be reassigned to another route. Your religion may say that you can't consume beef, and you have the right to ask a restaurant about what ingredients are in their food, but you don't get to demand that they not serve beef. And your religion -- and please note that in the Vanderbilt University document, only a small number of Christian sects -- may forbid vaccination, but you don't get to demand a job in healthcare, or in any workplace where others will be endangered by exposure to your unvaccinated self.

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awesome reporting thank you Adam

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…. exemption, I’d sure want my identity hidden. Probably, but I’m then again being delusional….

Regardless, do we or should we grant privacy exemptions to people in power whose actions affect us all?

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Regardless, do we or should we grant privacy exemptions to people in power whose actions affect us all?

Good question. Do we want them to be murdered by Republicans who disagree with their decisions?

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In this case, it's more that they affected the people who didn't want to get vaccinated.

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.

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Sometimes, yes. The questions are, would publishing their identities endanger them or anyone else, and is there a public policy reason for publishing the information.

If you disapprove of either the vaccination requirement, or the possible exemptions, the appropriate people to complain to, or about, include the governor, the hospital board/upper management, and maybe the president or legislature. Publicly identifying the individuals who are deciding whether to give John Doe a religious exemption might make them more or less likely to grant those exemptions, and for the wrong reasons.

You don't need to know who's on that committee to call the governor's office. And you shouldn't be yelling at your neighbor, or your brother-in-law, or the hapless person whose phone number you dug up because you disagree with their decision.

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