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Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County

Central Coast healthcare workers rally against California vaccine mandate

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Healthcare workers throughout the Central Coast are gathering against the state’s coronavirus vaccination mandates.

The California Department of Public Health says all health care workers, including those in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, doctor’s offices and more, must prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30.

Some healthcare workers at Dignity Health say they are currently unvaccinated.

During a gathering at a local parking lot, several of them said they are concerned about being fired if they don’t get vaccinated.

They say they are mailing letters to Marian Regional Medical Center with the hope that "their voices will be heard."

"I have not made the choice to get the vaccine because I don’t feel like there’s enough information," said registered nurse Brooke Rogers at Marian Regional Medical Center.

Rogers is one of several healthcare workers who rallied against a new California state mandate saying they have to get vaccinated.

"I am also upset about being forced to take something that has not been federally approved and being forced to do something against my will," said registered nurse Rosa Castro at Marian Regional Medical Center.

The California Department of Public Health says all health care workers, including those in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, doctor’s offices and more, must prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30.

"We’re trying to let our fellow coworkers know that they’re not alone. A lot of us have felt very alone and very isolated and very attacked," said registered nurse Anna Andrews at Marian Regional Medical Center.

“We didn’t need a vaccine to get through Covid we do know that we need to increase our supplements we have to stay healthy that’s what we have done it has protected us and now we’re being called murderers," said registered nurse Sherry Lewis at Marian Regional Medical Center.

One of their concerns has to do with side effects.

"Maybe there's a small number that I’ve heard ... but to me that is enough for me to choose to wait," said Rogers.

But Santa Barbara County Public Health experts like Pharmacist Sagar Asodia at JDX Pharmacy say they still recommend the vaccine.

"Those who did have side effects that are unfortunate … represented a very very small population of the whole that have received a vaccine … and to me it did not worrying me simply because the benefits out weighed the risks," said Asodia.

“It would be awful for the community to lose these nurses from Marian hospital I’ll like I said if they weren’t here," said concerned mother Katie Taylor.

Administrators at Marian Regional Medical Center are working to follow the state's mandate.

They provided the following statement:

"In keeping with Dignity Health's mission of improving the health of those it serves and especially those who are vulnerable, and our commitment to providing safe care for patients and a safe work environment for clinicians and staff, Dignity Health is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30, 2021. This requirement also includes all physicians, advanced practice providers, volunteers, and others caring for patients within our facility.

As health care providers we have a responsibility to help end this pandemic and protect our patients, our colleagues, and those in our communities. Requiring vaccination for our teams is critical to maintaining a safe care environment. Medical and religious exemptions will be available for those who qualify.

Throughout the pandemic, Dignity Health has implemented a broad range of safety measures to be able to continue providing essential health care services to everyone in our communities, including those battling life-threatening COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again due to the threat of variants, and many communities continue to have low vaccination rates. Our decision to require the COVID-19 vaccination for our teams is rooted in a commitment to keeping our community safe -- and bringing an end to this pandemic as quickly as possible.

By requiring the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, just as we do with the flu (influenza) vaccine, Dignity Health joins health systems and associations across the country in supporting vaccination for health care workers in an effort to continue protecting our patients, staff, and communities from this dangerous disease."

The new mandate allows only limited religious and medical exemptions.

Those exempt would still have to undergo regular testing, as often as twice a week, and wear a mask in all workplace settings.

Coronavirus / Health / Safe at Home / Video
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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.

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