‘It should be an option’: Health care workers protest vaccine mandates

NOW: ‘It should be an option’: Health care workers protest vaccine mandates

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An online petition against mandatory vaccinations for health workers is gaining momentum.

It started after several large health care providers announced they will require staff to be vaccinated in an effort to protect staff and patients from COVID-19.

Over 10,000 people have signed Taylor Falesnik's petition which aims to end vaccine mandates at health care facilities.

“It should be an option, we respect people's decisions to be vaccinated or not to be vaccinated but it definitely should not be a mandate,” said Falesnik, a cardiac nursing assistant.

Falesnik's petition joins several other organizations opposing COVID-19 protocols. Dozens showed up in Grafton in support of health care workers.

“They have been tirelessly involved in taking care of everyone during this pandemic and now they're being forced to take something,” said Elizabeth Nerbum of Menomonee Falls.

Several health care providers already have a majority of their employees vaccinated.

However, Ajay Sethi, professor of population health science at UW-Madison, says there’s room for improvement.

“Most people are on board that it's important you get vaccinated, but you can do better,” said Sethi.

Health professionals also say there's strong evidence that COVID-19 mandates will be highly effective. Most health care facilities also will allow medical and religious exemptions.

“In the name of patient safety, it's important that every patient has a health care provider who's vaccinated,” said Sethi.

Health care providers are also giving employees until October to get the vaccine, but Falesnik is already anticipating quitting her job if the mandate is not lifted.

“Myself along with hundreds of health care workers would be willing to be terminated.”

Efforts to get more people vaccinated are growing more urgent as state health officials warn if vaccination rates don't increase, the delta variant could continue to evolve.

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