More than 400 medical professionals in Southern California rallied outside Riverside Community Hospital on Aug. 9 to protest the state’s requirement that all health workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to members from America’s Healthcare Workers for Medical Freedom (AHWMF), the organizer, so far they have held seven such rallies across California, including one in Orange county with over 500 participants.
The California Department of Public Health issued an announcement on Aug. 5 that workers in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care homes, and other health care-related fields must be vaccinated by Sept. 30. The Golden State is the first state to enact such a requirement.
Heather K., one of the founders of AHWMF, told The Epoch Times that many participants are frontline health workers during the pandemic.
“We’re not anti-vaccine, we’re anti-mandate,” she explained. “We’ve worked the whole entire year and a half, and now they want to fire us if we don’t get the vaccine. So, we truly believe that’s wrong, and we should have the choice.”
Heather has been a nurse for 11 years. She stressed that it is for freedom and safety that the protesters oppose compulsory vaccination.
“It’s not fully FDA-approved. There are reported adverse events that have happened. And as a health care provider, I know for a fact that we underreport these cases and overlook them a lot.”
She added, “I believe that it’s the wrong decision because it puts patients at risk, the quality of care will go down if they fire tons of staff in the hospital. So we’re all doing this together because we don’t agree with it.”
Carol Blount, a nurse at the rally, echoed Heather’s stance.
“Now I’m feeling like our freedom is getting stripped away from us,” she told The Epoch Times. “Not just because I’m a nurse, but I’m also an American citizen and I believe in freedom, and most of all, freedom of choice.”
Vaccine Mandates Not Meant for Public Safety: Protesters
Sandy Shipley, a registered nurse, believes that the vaccination mandates are not intended to protect the public, but for some hidden agenda.
“They just want to push this dangerous toxic vaccine on to everybody,” Shipley said.
Jay, who works in the emergency room at Loma Linda Medical Center, believes that the government policies on vaccination have been politicized in the name of safety, but it is not for safety at all. She revealed to The Epoch Times that some people were still infected after vaccination.
“My really good friend just got done being in quarantine, she had COVID, her and her husband and they got vaccinated in March,” she said.
“It’s a forced [policy],” she added. “We are American, this is a free country. We don’t live in a socialist country, communist country. It is just slowly taking freedoms away, and if this has mandated what’s next? I think if people don’t stand up for our rights now,” she said.
Jay stressed that health workers are educated professionals and should be allowed to make their own choices. She asserted that frontline health workers have taken very good care of COVID-19 patients prior to the rollout of the vaccines, with no issues, and questioned why health workers are now being required to take the vaccine.
According to official data, 63.6 percent of Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and about 10 percent have received one dose.
Some health workers at the rally questioned the efficacy of the vaccine, asking why California is once again experiencing the “fastest increase” of new infection cases despite a sizable vaccination rate in the state.
Rhonda La-blanc, who works in the operating room, said that she has been working on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle, even when she was pregnant.
She cited issues with both effectiveness and safety when explaining her opposition to compulsory vaccination.
“We don’t need others to force poison to be injected into our body. Somebody in my small town died overnight from the vaccine … Are these being reported?” she said. “People are still getting sick with the vaccine.”
Kristine, a nurse who has worked in the emergency room for 10 years, took her child to the protest. She said she is there “for everyone’s freedom, for our children, for our families.”