Group of healthcare employees protests vaccine mandate on Memphis Medical District
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A group of about 30 people protested in the Medical District in Memphis Wednesday morning.
A majority of the group identified themselves as healthcare employees in Memphis. They were protesting against vaccine mandates instituted by Baptist Memorial Healthcare, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and Regional One Hospital.
“Part of freedom is allowing everybody the right to choose their own destiny,” said Dan Eubanks, Mississippi state representative from District 25.
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Eubanks, a representative from Desoto County, spoke on behalf of the group of protesters who say they’ll be forced out of their career by vaccine mandates.
“When there is nowhere else to go, it’s effectively the destruction of your career and your ability to provide for your family,” Eubanks said.
“Unvaccinated healthcare workers are taking care of really sick patients, they can easily pass on COVID. So, it is imperative that healthcare workers get vaccinated,” said infectious disease expert, Dr. Minoj Jain.
Jain, who is also a member of the Memphis Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force, says vaccinating healthcare professionals is a public health issue and medical professionals have always been required to be vaccinated.
“We require vaccinations for influenza, for measles, for all of these diseases,” Jain said. “COVID is in the same line, where we need to protect our patient population.”
Jain has strong words for anyone in the healthcare industry who refuses to get vaccinated for COVID-19 without religion or medical exception.
“People who are not willing to care for themselves so that they can care for others, I don’t think we need them in healthcare,” Jain said. “I think they need to understand that healthcare is about helping others.”
We reached out to the hospital systems about these protests.
A statement from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare reads:
“Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare fully respects everyone’s rights under the First Amendment. We understand some Associates have questions about the vaccines, and we believe the October 31 deadline allows time for team members to get answers to those questions. Requiring our employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way to protect our Associates, providers, patients and community. The safe and effective vaccines are our only hope of ending this devastating pandemic that continues to grip our community. This is a public health crisis.”
A statement from Baptist Memorial Healthcare reads:
“We understand that some people have an opposing view regarding our decision to require the vaccine for our workforce. Given we are in the midst of the greatest health care crisis of our generation, we made the decision that we believed to be in the best interest of our entire team, our patients and the community at large. While they have the right to voice their opinions, we have a responsibility to provide the safest environment for our staff members and patients, many of whom are vulnerable and immunocompromised. This was not a decision we made lightly.”
A spokesperson for Regional One Hospital saysthey do not have a statement regarding protests of vaccine mandates.
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