You probably don’t have to go too far out of your way to see an anti-vaccine protest. Workers and ordinary citizens are up in arms over the Biden administration’s decision to mandate the shot for corporations with more than 100 employees.
But you may also see providers wearing full medical scrubs standing in the crowd. Many healthcare companies have started laying off staff that refuse to get vaccinated. These providers have all sorts of reasons for not wanting to roll up their sleeves.
Here’s what they have to say:
Leah Cushman, of Concord, New Hampshire, says she is ready to lose her job as a nurse after refusing to get vaccinated.
“My beliefs are religious. I believe that my creator endowed me with an immune system that protects me, and if I get sick, that’s an act of God. I would not take a medicine that affects the immune system,” Cushman said. She doesn’t think there’s a conflict between these beliefs and the responsibilities of her job.
She describes the U.S. COVID-19 vaccines as “experimental”, even though they have received full authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
However, Cushman says she no longer takes any vaccines at all.
Cushman is a state representative of the Republican Party as well as a registered nurse.
“The Biden administration is targeting our sovereign rights. We’re medical professionals, but we still need the ability to choose what happens to our bodies,” she says.
Alyssa Downey and her mother Karen Downey are both nurses in Syracuse, New York. They are in danger of losing their jobs now that the state’s vaccination mandate is in effect.
“We believe in our own immune systems,” said Alyssa. “We believe that we don’t need to inject ourselves with something that we might not trust and that’s being forced on us just to keep our jobs.”
“When people have asked me why I don’t want to get the vaccine or why I feel the way I do,” Alyssa added. “I tell them this is about so much bigger than a vaccine at this point – this is strictly about human rights and having the right to refuse to put something in your body.”
Karen, who works as an emergency room nurse, says she has a religious exemption for the mandate, but a federal court could decide to drop religious exemptions next month, which would put an end to her 31-year nursing career.
“Power is one of those things that you start giving up little bits and little bits of your rights, and then before you know it, it’s too late and you’re essentially a slave,” said Karen.
She says she’s prepared to throw in the towel if it means keeping her freedom.
“Obviously it puts a strain on my family too if I’m bringing less money in,” said Karen. “So, I feel like as long as I’m healthy, I plan to figure out whether I need to work an entry-level job or a work-from-home job.”
“In the Bible, they talk about not putting something in your body that God didn’t already give you,” said Alyssa.
Both Karan and Alyssa say they plan to keep working in the healthcare field in some form.
Deborah Conrad, a physician assistant in western New York, says she is ready to go to court over the state’s mandate. She references side-effects that she claims to have seen, even though they don’t match up with scientific consensus.
“We were all traumatized, vaccinated and unvaccinated,” Conrad said, adding that she often feels disrespected by her colleagues. “It’s very hard that the same people who elevated me to this level now look at me as a dangerous person.”
She asked her employers why the PPE they’ve been wearing to protect themselves and patients is suddenly no longer enough. “It’s not that I don’t want to do my job anymore,” she said. “I’m not allowed to do my job anymore.”
Pam, an LPN employed at an Oschner family medicine clinic in Hammond, Louisiana, says she is ready to lose her job over the mandate, even as the state faces a deadly outbreak.
“I will not take it and if I get fired, so be it,” she said. “I’m completely against it. If they can take this freedom away from us, what else can they take away from us?”
“Where are we going down this path? If I choose not to get the vaccine, that should be my option. If it’s okay for me to get an abortion because it’s ‘my body, my choice’, then why is sticking a needle in me not also ‘my body, my choice?’” she added.
Sarah, a family nurse practitioner working at an occupational medicine clinic in New Orleans, says she eventually got the vaccine to avoid losing her job.
“I was basically told I had to get it,” she said. “I feel that if I was good enough to take care of you when there wasn’t a vaccine and put myself at risk and that I did catch Covid from a patient, then I should have the choice of whether I want that vaccine or not.”