Demonstrators gathered outside of the Rochester, New York, Strong Memorial Hospital to protest the state’s vaccine mandate applying to healthcare workers as the vaccination deadline arrived on Monday.
Standing outside the hospital, as they have throughout the month, protesters shouted, “we will not comply” and “my body, my choice”:
Lots of people protesting NYS healthcare vaccine mandate in front of Strong Hospital. pic.twitter.com/mS4Vs1nRFx
— Dan Schrack (@DanSchrack) September 27, 2021
Hospital officials announced on Monday they had increased vaccination rates among staffers from 92 percent to 95.5 percent over the course of the last week, “meaning that less than 300 employees out of 16,000 will be fired if they don’t relent,” per the New York Times:
Massive Protest at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester as New York State’s Healthcare Vaccine Mandate takes effect today. As of this afternoon, UR Medicine says less than 300 people will lose their job. @SPECNews1ROC pic.twitter.com/oZOkNM2b8L
— Lowell Rose (@LowellRoseNews) September 27, 2021
Kathleen Parrinello, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said some employees are “still very scared” and need “reassurance.” However, the mandates are prompting some state healthcare workers to vacate the state altogether.
“You know, we hear a lot about choice,” she said. “And of course, everyone has a right to choose to be vaccinated. However, those of us in the medical field, we know that vaccines are safe and we know they’re effective.”
According to 13WHAM, Mykola Babchuk, a respiratory therapist, plans to move to a red state if it comes to getting vaccinated or fired.
“I’m not too worried. If I get fired, I’m already planning on moving to Alabama,” Babchuk said.
“They respect my bodily autonomy, their governor protects me, and I have no worries there. With the amount of people that are supporting our autonomy there, I feel safe,” the healthcare worker added.
Indeed, unlike New York, Alabama does not have a statewide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
“The whole thing makes me so sad and so hurt because I feel there’s so many excellent nurses that are losing their jobs because of a mandate,” Kris Brickle, a registered nurse of over two decades, said, according to Spectrum News. She said she personally “wanted time … to see how it [the vaccine] was going to play out.”
“I don’t think I can stay in health care,” Brickler added. “Honestly, I need to look for something else.”