Demonstrators gathered Sunday to protest Aurora Healthcare's vaccine mandate in Kenosha

NOW: Demonstrators gathered Sunday to protest Aurora Healthcare’s vaccine mandate in Kenosha

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of healthcare workers at Advocate Aurora Health to get vaccinated for COVID-19 after they announced a vaccine mandate earlier this month.

Around a hundred people came out to protest the mandate at the Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha on Sunday, August 15.

Many people at the protest claimed to not be anti-vaxxers, just anti-vaccine mandate.

Some protestors said they are willing to lose their jobs over their right to not get the vaccine, while other healthcare workers say not getting the COVID-19 vaccine sets a bad example for the public.

"I'm 100 percent willing to lose my job over this, I don't even seem to lose my job,I'm negotiating life and making a choice," said Rhiannon McGraw, one of many healthcare workers, family members, and sympathetic individuals out at the protest Sunday.

McGraw and registered nurse Erika George said the protest isn't against the vaccine itself, but rather the mandate.

They voiced concerns about the emergency authorization for COVID-19 vaccines given by the FDA.

"We really just want to make a decision when we want to make the decision and not be enforced a timeline," said George.

The protest's organizer, Amber Hand, said that although she doesn't work in healthcare herself, she knows people who are concerned about speaking out.

"Everyone who works at the hospital, they're not allowed to say what's going on... either they get the vaccine or they're fired, and they've worked a whole year without a vaccine, saving us, and now it's our turn to save them," said Hand.

Other healthcare workers feel differently.

Dr. Hashim Zaibak, a pharmacist at Hayat Pharmacy, said healthcare workers like himself set an important example for the public by getting the vaccine, which the CDC says is proven to be safe and effective.

"If they have a negative opinion about the vaccine, they're going to transmit that negative opinion to a lot of people," said Dr. Zaibak.

Dr. Zaibak says the vaccine is the best tool for getting things back to normal and keeping people safe.

"For me as a person I would like to go back to my normal life and we know that now with a delta variant that that's that set us back one step," said Zaibak.

Aurora Healthcare officials released a statement in response to Sunday's protest.

"We continue to believe that requiring vaccines for all our team members is the right thing to do to keep our patients, communities and each other safe and healthy. We respect our team members’ rights to peaceful protest and at the same time our top priority is to provide high quality, safe care for our patients who depend on us."

The deadline for the vaccine mandate at Aurora Healthcare is October 15th.


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