ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) – More than 1,000 people gathered outside of Kaiser Permanente in Roseville to protest a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all health care workers.
Organizers say it was an unprecedented turnout. Hundreds of signs, flags and scrubs from several health care networks could be seen all along Rocky Ridge Drive and Douglas Boulevard during a protest with a theme of “freedom not force.”
“This is the first step that we can do, next to getting legal representation, which is what we will do if we have to,” said registered nurse Sella Garza.
Registered nurses like Garza are banding together with local leaders to protest, arguing a mandate that requires the choices of vaccination or termination violates their rights.
“In America, we have the freedom to make these kinds of decisions between our doctor and ourselves and I support that,” said Sacramento County District 4 Supervisor Sue Frost.
Healthcare workers have the right to refuse to get vaccinated but there are labor laws that do have consequences, which is exactly what they are protesting against.
“Being vaccinated as a condition of employment for a hospital worker is very reasonable,” said Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel.
Reichel says, according to California law, employers in the medical field have legal standing to fire employees if they deem it is necessary for a good cause with the only exemptions being legitimate health reasons or religious beliefs.
“Everyone has rights but that includes the employers who are in the business of healing others,” Reichel explained.
In response to Monday’s protest, Kaiser Permanente sent the following statement saying:
Kaiser Permanente respects the rights of all people to peacefully express their views.
We strongly believe in the science and evidence supporting COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy. Kaiser Permanente made the decision to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for employees and physicians because we know that a fully vaccinated workforce is the most effective path to protecting our people, our patients, and the communities we serve.
As the country’s largest integrated care delivery system, we feel it is our responsibility to do everything we can to help end this pandemic, particularly in light of the dramatic increase in cases from the highly infectious and contagious Delta variant. Widespread vaccination is our best hope of eradicating the virus and helping communities stay safe.
We encourage everyone to play a role in ending the pandemic by getting the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.Kaiser Permanente
Others still believe those who need protection from what they call “politicized medicine” are those who have been working the frontlines of COVID-19.
“Last year, they were our heroes and this year they’re going to be fired because they’re not going to take a forced vaccine, I feel that is absolutely wrong,” said one woman who identified herself only as Brenda.
California health care workers have until the end of September to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Several organizers of Monday’s protest said they plan to rally once again at the state capitol next Monday.