In what is now a growing trend among leading Alaska Native corporations and health entities, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) has imposed a COVID vaccine mandate on all of its 3,000-plus employees.
The mandate is the latest in a string of Alaska-based entities that have threatened employees with termination if they refuse the experimental COVID injection. In May, the tribally owned Norton Sound Health Corporation put 700 employees on notice that they are required to submit to a COVID shot as a condition of employment. Similarly, employees of the Bering Straits Native Corporation, including those who work for its many subsidiary companies across Alaska, must get a COVID injection by Aug. 1.
Announced on July 8, the ANTHC order states that employees must be “fully vaccinated” by Oct. 15.
The ANTHC is a non-profit tribal health organization that serves Alaska Native and American Indian people living in Alaska. The consortium co-manages the Alaska Native Medical Center with Southcentral Foundation and it includes 36 specialty clinics around the state. It is the largest, most comprehensive tribal health organization in the United States, and Alaska’s second-largest health employer with more than 3,000 employees.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
In announcing the new mandate, ANTHC President Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson said her organization is “proud to join other organizations in service of our people, as we find ways to safely return to more normal operations.”
While a growing number of businesses are now coercing employees into taking COVID injections, they could be on questionable legal grounds since all COVID vaccines remain unapproved by the FDA and are only permitted under Emergency Use Authorization. EUA products are by definition experimental and therefore people have a right to decline them, according to federal law. Lawsuits are already underway challenging mandatory vaccines for COVID.
Last month a federal district court in Texas dismissed a case by 117 hospital employees that challenged a hospital’s mandatory COVID vaccination policy. It represents the first court opinion which upheld an employer’s ability to mandate the COVID shot for employees. The decision stands in apparent contradiction with existing federal law, and is being appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.