Anti-mandate group holds a new protest
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - With no word yet on the anti-mandate petition and no change in mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies, healthcare workers in Mesa County held another protest today. This protest coincides with a petition against vaccine requirements for healthcare workers. Earlier this month, hospital officials from St. Mary’s, Community Hospital, Family Health West, and Mind Springs collectively announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all their employees.
The protest today was held in front of St. Mary’s on the four corners of the intersection of 7th and Patterson. Some of the protestors were healthcare workers in Mesa County, while others were family members and friends. This protest started today, Sunday, August 30th. It will be on every corner of the intersection of 7th and Patterson, in front of St. Mary’s and will last Sunday to Sunday through September 5th.
“We’re not against vaccines, we’re not anti-vaxers, we are anti-mandate,” said licensed psychiatric tech Chanella Charlesworth. “We’re here to fight for our freedoms as Americans. If we just lay down & do as we’re told, we lose those freedoms. We need to stand for what we believe in.”
Earlier this month, health officials in Mesa County announced the mandate saying vaccinations are critical to protect patients, staff, and the general community. There are only a handful of exemptions to the mandate. Including a qualifying medical condition, a disability or a religious belief. Employees who qualify for an exemption are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and provide documentation. Many healthcare workers are in fear of losing their jobs over their decision to not get vaccinated.
“We’re not trying to talk you out of getting the vaccine,” said a protester. “But we are telling people it’s wrong to tell all these doctors & nurses who have seen the side effects of this vaccine in this hospital, they shouldn’t have to lose their license for that if Polis goes that route. They shouldn’t have to lose their jobs or be forced to take extra measures. And so for the general public I want them to know that yes this is about healthcare right now but this is gonna come in all our industries if it doesn’t stop here. It’s gonna affect out police officers, EMS, kids in school, and then slowly trickle through to all the other industries. So we just wanna stop it here.”
The protestors stress that they are not against the vaccine. Approximately 50% of the protestors today say they are fully vaccinated, but are just out showing their support for the cause. Saying they are just against mandating the vaccine. They believe it should be a choice. And no one should be fired for doing something they don’t believe in.
“There are so many of us here that are already vaccinated who are not anti-vax but more so anti-mandate,” said a protester. “We want people to have a choice.”
We reached out to St. Mary’s today regarding the protest and they released us a statement saying: “As a ministry, our mission guides us to ensure that the health and safety of our patients, their families, our physicians, and our associates are the top priority. We respect the community’s and our staff’s rights to express their opinions peacefully. Ultimately have a responsibility to protect the community members we are here to serve while adhering to all federal and state guidelines. SCL Health maintains that the COVID-19 vaccine is essential to protect those who are vulnerable, including unvaccinated children and the immunocompromised. Vaccinations reduce overall hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and other severe health-related consequences. Bottom line, the severity of illness is much less for those who are vaccinated. SCL Health St. Mary’s, along with other healthcare organizations in our surrounding area, is rolling out a plan to require remaining employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by November 1 due to the sharp rise in cases due to the delta variant. Our associates can follow a process for health and religion exemption, and again, we will follow the final guidelines for a statewide vaccine mandate put forth by Governor Polis, which is expected within the next 30-days.”
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