GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Some are speaking out after Cone Health, Novant Health and Wake Health announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for all employees.
Cone Health plans to roll out this mandate on Friday, giving employees until Oct. 1 to get the vaccine and until Oct. 9 to submit proof of vaccination.
On Thursday, dozens of people stood outside of Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro with signs and horns. Some of the protesters are medical professionals.
“It’s ‘get it or else,’ but all we can do is get up and fight for our rights because it’s what it is,” said Angela Collins, an employee of Cone Health. “As my sign says, they can’t override our God-given right and that’s what they’re doing, and it’s wrong. I’ve been here over 20 years, a dedicated employee, a loyal employee, just like most of us have. It’s just wrong.”
“It’s not that we’re anti-vaxers we’re anti-push,” said Wendy Die, a Cone Health employee,
Passing drivers honked their horns in support as protesters held up posters, asking to be able to make the choice themselves.
Die has been an employee with Cone Health for the last 15 years, working long, hard hours on the front line during the pandemic.
“For the leadership to put us through such stress, after we have been through stress for such a while, I think it’s shameful,” Die said.
Health care workers from other hospitals showed up to lend support, like Lorri Lemons, who already got her vaccine.
“December or January, I was one of the first to get it. I’m here because it should be a choice. It’s not FDA approved yet,” Lemons said.
Right now, the FDA has only approved the COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use
FOX8 asked some people out in the crowd, if the vaccines do get full FDA approval, would they change their minds?
“I think I would consider it if there was more data out,” said Amy Bowles, a Wake Forest Baptist employee.
Cone Health said in a statement:
We value our team members’ rights to voice their concerns. 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.
“I sincerely believe that this decision is absolutely the right thing to do for our patients and the communities we serve,” said Cone Health CEO Mary Jo Cagle. “Vaccination is critically important in health care settings. It is one way that we ensure a safe environment for all members of our community.”
Wake Health and Novant Health have also remained steadfast.
Novant Health said in the company’s announcement:
While our hope is for every team member to accept the vaccine on their own, a mandatory vaccination program will ensure that Novant Health’s patients and visitors, as well as our team members, have better protection against COVID-19 regardless of where they are in our health system. This disease is preventable thanks to a safe and effective vaccine, and we are committed to doing everything we can to bring an end to this pandemic.
More than 97% of individuals who are being hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated and 99.2% of COVID-19-related deaths are among people who have not been vaccinated, according to Novant Health.
“It’s not a simple matter of its one organization. I’ll work over here. It’s the entire health care organization,” Lemons said.
Employees feel it should be made a choice and hope the outcome of the protest will make the health care systems reconsider.
“We have supported this system with our whole hearts so it’s time for them to support us,” Die said.