Protestors gather in front of Intermountain Healthcare in opposition to vaccine mandates

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – Protestors gathered in front of the Intermountain Healthcare hospital in Murray this afternoon to show their opposition against vaccine mandates.

People donning American flags and signs lined the sidewalks along State Street as some drivers honked their horns in support. Some signs said they were against the mandate but were supportive of the vaccines. 

The vaccine mandate issued by the federal government would apply to businesses with more than 100 workers. Workers would need to be vaccinated by Jan. 4th. Those who do not get vaccinated would be tested for the coronavirus once a week and must wear a mask while at work. The issue at stake for the protestors was the ability to make their own decisions in regard to getting vaccinated for work. 

“We are here for medical freedom,” Wendy Farris said. “I’ve lost one job already, I’m ready to lose my second job.” 

Farris’ former employer, Amazon, let her go because she did not comply with the mask mandate despite having a doctor’s note, she said. For her current job, she said that once OSHA “has the protocol” to issue a mandate, she will lose that job. She also said that the protocol was unconstitutional. If she loses her current job, Farris said she fears for her future.

“I guess I’ll have to live in a cardboard box,” she said.

Another protestor reiterated the issue of freedoms and the effect the mandates would have on those freedoms. 

“I think it’s very important to get the message out that we’re having our freedoms taken from us and our liberties trampled,” Marvin Moorehead said.

He said he works from home. While protesting, he carried what looked like two shirts folded and wrapped in plastic. One shirt was red and had an image of a vaccine crossed out saying, “I won’t comply” and another one was black with the words, “resist communism.” The shirt was printed with the symbol typically associated with communism.

Moorehead said the protest was “beautiful” and that it was what people were “supposed to do.” He also called the mandates “a dictatorship.” 

“Somebody is telling us what to believe, what to put into our bodies, and how to feel about it and that’s what it’s not right,” he said.

Melissa Butler, a home hospice nurse who did not work for IHC,  said the protest was not about the vaccines as much as it was about the mandates. She said that individual care should come down to the patient and not the government or some other organization.

“Every individual should have the right to make those decisions for themselves,” she said.

She recognized that other people were ready to sacrifice their jobs for not getting vaccinated, but according to Bulter, her employer “is very supportive of patient’s rights and medical freedom,” but she also said that it ultimately comes down to what the federal government says.

Intermountain Healthcare issued a statement regarding the vaccine mandates, saying:

“Based on federal government COVID-19 vaccination rules, all U.S. hospitals and health systems are required to have their employees fully immunized or have started the immunization process by December 5, 2021. Medical and religious exemptions are permitted under the government requirements. 

In Utah, three major health systems – HCA/Mountainstar, Intermountain Healthcare, and University of Utah Health – are working to comply with the government requirement to have all employees vaccinated. 

To not remain in compliance with federal government rules would mean risking healthcare access for hundreds of thousands of people who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. Some of the most vulnerable in our community – including underserved populations, the elderly, and children – would not have their care covered.”

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans granted an emergency stay last Saturday of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

A federal court declined Friday to lift its stay on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more workers.

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