Despite the fact that many healthcare workers nationwide have taken to the streets to protest vaccine mandates, the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System has mandated that all of its employees must take the vaccine.
“All VCU and VCU Health System employees will be required to report COVID-19 vaccinations,” the university announced. “If you have already reported your vaccination, there is no action required on your part. If applicable, you may submit a request for a medical or religious exemption. Additional information is forthcoming from the university and health system about the medical and religious exemption process.”
Everyone is required to be vaccinated, or to have an official exemption by September 15.
The hospital and the university will both also require masks, regardless of vaccination status.
“We believe these mitigation strategies — including vaccination and masking — will be effective, at which point we can assess the need to continue requiring masks at the university,” VCU’s statement said.
But many healthcare workers nationwide, who were revered as heroes for their work during the pandemic a year ago when no vaccine was available, are now questioning vaccine mandates.
At a large protest among Atrium Health workers in Charlotte, North Carolina last weekend, healthcare workers gave various reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated. Hundreds attended the event after Atrium announced that all of its employees must be vaccinated by September 15.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about choice,” Cheryl Morneau, a nurse, said. “It’s a right. People died for our rights. It’s not right to take that freedom away from us, we are people too. We sacrificed on the frontlines for over a year. Why don’t we have the same rights as everyone else and as our patients do?”
Another nurse who declined to be named said that as a breastfeeding mother, she was concerned about the effects of the vaccine on her newborn, which she said “have not been studied.”
A registered nurse named Jane Nymberg said she was considering quitting her job if forced to take the vaccine.
“I’m not going to be forced to take an experimental vaccine that potentially could injure me or kill me. The chances of that are low. But if it happens, I will be responsible,” Nymberg said, alluding to the fact that vaccine makers face no liability for repercussions from the vaccine.
Data from mid-July showed that one-third of healthcare workers in New York City remained unvaccinated, despite that city being among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
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