Ark. hospital says employees seeking religious exemption from vax must pledge not to take certain OTC meds

Staffers at a hospital in central Arkansas who are seeking a religious exemption to opt-out of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate are being told they must also sign a pledge to refrain from using dozens of over-the-counter meds in a bizarre pushback from the administrator.

According to reports, an inordinate number of staffers at Conway Regional Medical Center are claiming the exemption after the facility adopted the mandate because they believe that fetal stem cell lines may have been used to develop the vaccines. However, according to the Daily Mail, the three approved vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson — were not developed using aborted fetal lines.

That said, the outlet noted that “fetal cell lines, which are laboratory-grown cells based on aborted fetal cells that were collected in the 1970s and 1980s, were used for research and development of the shots.”

Adding further clarification, the Charlotte Lozier Institute notes that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines didn’t utilize fetal cell lines to develop their vaccines, but Johnson & Johnson did.

In response, hospital administrators are requiring those seeking an exemption based on that reasoning to sign an affidavit attesting they will also stop taking 30 over-the-counter medications that were also developed using fetal stem cell lines to include Tylenol, Tums, and ibuprofen.

“This was significantly disproportionate to what we’ve seen with the influenza vaccine,” Matt Troup, the hospital CEO and president told Becker’s Hospital Review. “Thus, we provided a religious attestation form for those individuals requesting a religious exemption.

“The intent of the religious attestation form is twofold: To ensure staff requesting exemption are sincere in their beliefs and to educate staff who might have requested an exemption without understanding the full scope of how fetal cells are used in testing and development in common medicines,” he added.

“We require the flu vaccine to work here,” Troup further noted in an interview with local outlet KARK4. “With the COVID vaccine, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of exemption requests related to this fetal cell issue.”

Included in the lengthy list of meds is aspirin, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Motrin, Tums, Benadryl, and Lipitor.

“We feel that if you request an exemption then attesting to that form really should follow,” Troup told the local outlet, going on to explain that he believes the uptick in religious exemption claims is largely due to a desire to refrain from taking a COVID-19 vaccine, all of which are still very new.

“A lot of this, I believe, is a hesitancy about the vaccine, and so that’s a separate issue than a religious exemption,” he said.

“We really have no interest in, no intent of being disrespectful here,” he added. “That’s not what this is about. This is a lightning rod issue, and we have no interest in trying to incite more anger and frustration.”

Employees who are not granted an exemption are required to be vaccinated by Oct. 8. Staffers who do not get the jab will be subject to disciplinary action that could include being terminated, reports noted.

All new hires at the hospital are required to be COVID-vaccinated within 30 days.

In a statement, Troup said that the mandate “is a decision that has come after much discussion, analysis, and education. It’s one we do not take lightly.”

He added: “As the community’s health system for 100 years, we feel strongly that we must lead our community in vaccine adoption and set an example for the communities we serve.”


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