Dozens of health care workers protest COVID-19 vaccination mandates |

Dozens of health care workers protest COVID-19 vaccination mandates

Ginna Roe
Updated: August 07, 2021 08:12 PM
Created: August 07, 2021 01:53 PM

Dozens of people gathered outside St. John's Hospital in Maplewood on Saturday to protest vaccination mandates from health care systems across the metro.

M Health Fairview, Allina Health, HealthPartners and Children's Minnesota are among the latest health systems to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The only exemptions are for strong religious beliefs or medical conditions.

"We stand up for our patients all the time and no one's standing up for us," Allison Todd said.

Todd is a nurse at Allina Health's Cambridge clinic and said she believes it should be her choice whether or not she gets vaccinated; she doesn't believe her employment should depend on it. 

"We take an oath to uphold our patients' rights to their own medical choices and ours are being infringed on. We're not getting that choice as employees," Todd said.

But according to her employer, Allina Health, she could be terminated if she fails to get her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

"As part of being a health care organization, we are committed to protecting the health of those whom we serve," Dr. John Misa, vice president of Allina Health, said. "It is in our very mission statement that we prevent illness. That is what we have to lead with and in order to do that, we know the vaccine is the way to protect our patients and each other from COVID."

With the delta variant now accounting for 85% of cases in Minnesota, health care providers have said it's their obligation to act.

"Why we're doing this now is we see those cases start going up. We are already seeing in other states what happens when communities are not vaccinated. We cannot wait any longer," Misa said. 

According to Steven Andrew Smith — an employment attorney at Nichols Kaster in Minneapolis — federal law allows health care systems to require vaccinations.

"A private employer can require vaccinations there are exceptions that can be made based on religion and medical grounds or medical reasons," Smith said. "Health care employers are going to have a pretty strong reason to require it."

Todd said she doesn't plan to get vaccinated, and she knows what that could mean for her employment.

"I am willing to lose my job over this," she said. "It is that important."

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