Healthcare workers rally in Rochester against vaccine mandates

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — More than 100 healthcare workers who are opposed to getting vaccinated for COVID-19 held a rally in front of Strong Memorial Hospital Monday morning. Organizers say no one should be mandated by their employers to get the vaccine or risk losing their jobs.

News10NBC talked to healthcare employees who came from many of our local hospital systems, and they all believe that the vaccine is a personal choice they don’t feel is right for their bodies.

All along Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been suggesting that all front-line workers get the vaccine.

"It’s smart, if you are a receiving nurse, a receiving doctor people are coming in from the public, and you’re dealing with dozens of people maybe hundreds of people you should be vaccinated, you should be vaccinated. Or don’t work in a front-line position," Cuomo said.

Healthcare workers at the rally didn’t want to hear any of that as they stood near the front entrance of the hospital.

"Don’t mandate me into taking medicines that I don’t want, and don’t need," said Pittsford resident who identified herself only as Kristen. "Perfectly healthy individuals can defeat this virus on their own with their own immunity."

Even during the height of the pandemic hospital employees were not required to be tested. Today, they now have a choice as all of our local hospital systems in partnership with Monroe County will frequently test unvaccinated health care workers for COVID-19 starting next month.

Robert Mayo, Executive Vice President, and Chief Medical Officer at Rochester Regional Health released this statement saying, "As healthcare workers, it’s our responsibility to enhance the lives and preserve the health of the community. The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be the safest, most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID19, and to minimize the illness if it is contracted.”

At the rally, their chant was, "My body, My choice."

Merle McDonald, a Registered Nurse is very adamant about not getting the vaccine.

"I’m a nurse. I worked through the whole pandemic. So I don’t appreciate URMC, Highland Hospital telling me that I might be fired because I don’t choose to get a shot in my arm that I disagree with," McDonald said.

Jacqueline Smothers and her family came from Buffalo to participate in the rally. Smothers says if patients can have a choice, why not health care workers?

"I can’t do anything to their bodies that they don’t give me permission to do. So now why is someone going to force me to do something I don’t want to do?" Smothers said.

A spokesperson from Rochester Regional Health told News10NBC, the county and all local hospitals are still working out the logistics for covid testing, and employees will be informed on how this will work in the next few weeks. This is just one of a few rallies organizers have planned. We will let you know when as soon as we get that information.