Greensboro health care workers protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Alonzo Osche

Five major North Carolina health care systems announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their employees in an effort to combat the contagious delta variant. One of those health care systems is Cone Health in Greensboro.Many people, including vaccinated health care workers, are upset about the mandates. A protest in Greensboro on Thursday drew hundreds of people.”This is the thanks we get? It’s infuriating,” a Cone Health employee said. She wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of getting fired. But she faces the same fate if she doesn’t get the vaccine — she said that shouldn’t be the case.”I’m an intelligent health care worker,” she said. “I have enough experience and I’ve been informed. And I do not consent.”Bridget Smith, another employee, has been vaccinated. But she doesn’t believe in the mandate.”I stand for freedom, not force,” Smith said.She stood and protested for her coworkers, their jobs and their patients.”We’re already short, so if they fire people, if people retire early, how are the hospitals going to function? We just want them to have our backs. We just want them to hear us,” Smith said.The Cone Health administration said in a statement they do hear their employees, but they’re not changing their minds.”We value our team members’ right to voice their concerns,” the statement said. “At the same time, we remain steadfast in our decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine because keeping our patients and communities safe at all times is at the core of our values and our commitments.”The deadline to get the vaccine is Oct. 1. Employees said they’ll continue to hold protests if the policy isn’t changed.

Five major North Carolina health care systems announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their employees in an effort to combat the contagious delta variant. One of those health care systems is Cone Health in Greensboro.

Many people, including vaccinated health care workers, are upset about the mandates. A protest in Greensboro on Thursday drew hundreds of people.

“This is the thanks we get? It’s infuriating,” a Cone Health employee said.

She wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of getting fired. But she faces the same fate if she doesn’t get the vaccine — she said that shouldn’t be the case.

“I’m an intelligent health care worker,” she said. “I have enough experience and I’ve been informed. And I do not consent.”

Bridget Smith, another employee, has been vaccinated. But she doesn’t believe in the mandate.

“I stand for freedom, not force,” Smith said.

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She stood and protested for her coworkers, their jobs and their patients.

“We’re already short, so if they fire people, if people retire early, how are the hospitals going to function? We just want them to have our backs. We just want them to hear us,” Smith said.

The Cone Health administration said in a statement they do hear their employees, but they’re not changing their minds.

“We value our team members’ right to voice their concerns,” the statement said. “At the same time, we remain steadfast in our decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine because keeping our patients and communities safe at all times is at the core of our values and our commitments.”

The deadline to get the vaccine is Oct. 1. Employees said they’ll continue to hold protests if the policy isn’t changed.

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