Last Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:05 pm

Locals protest federal vaccine mandate


St. George locals stand outside St. George Regional Hospital protesting against the new vaccine mandate for businesses with more than one hundred employees. Signs read, “NO! Vaccine Mandates” and “COVID CARE PROTOCOLS KILLS PATIENTS.” Photo by Madisyn Dwiggins.

St. George locals stood outside St. George Regional Hospital Nov. 20 to protest the new OSHA vaccine mandate for large companies.

In September, President Joe Biden and his administration announced a new upcoming rule that would require large companies to mandate the vaccine or regular COVID-19 testing; however, this rule is temporarily halted by the federal appeals court. This case will likely make its way to the Supreme Court.

One local ongoing protest has been happening outside of St. George Regional Hospital for the past three weekends.

Protesters stood outside the hospital with signs stating “RESPECT PATIENT CHOICE,” “RESIST THEIR ILLEGAL TYRANNY,” “NO JAB NO JOB,” and some signs even compare the vaccine mandate to the holocaust.

Michelle Tanner, St. George City Councilwoman, was in charge of organizing the protests held outside St. George Regional Hospital on Nov. 6 and the protest outside the Intermountain Healthcare hospital in Murray on Nov. 13.

Tanner is a nurse herself and is currently working as an emergency nurse practitioner.

Tanner said: “I’m not against the vax. I am adamantly against the mandate. It is unlawful and unconstitutional. The federal government has zero authority to mandate what goes into our bodies.”

DSU nursing students who currently work inside St. George Regional Hospital have expressed their concerns about the ongoing protests outside the hospital.

“I don’t think the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandated even though I am vaccinated,” said Emily Pate, a senior nursing major from Las Vegas. “We are already in a nursing shortage which will get even worse once the mandate comes into effect. I’m in my preceptorship right now, and the nurse I am following refuses to get the vaccine and said if it comes down to it she would rather quit.”

Tanner agrees the mandate would cause a shortage and the community will lose a lot of great healthcare workers.

“Our community will suffer with the loss of many amazing healthcare workers this month due to the mandate,” Tanner said. “Some who have been practitioners there [for] 25 years are now being fired for making a personal health choice. It’s a terrible situation for a hospital that is already short-staffed going into our busiest season. An unwarranted loss for both the community and healthcare workers.”

Pate said: “Nurses are already stressed and adding even less staff along with the protests, it will just make things worse. Not only is it unsafe for the healthcare workers, but also the patients.”

Dixie State University’s nursing program has had to rework the program around the constant changes happening with the pandemic and new mandates.

DSU’s nursing program is requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to be enrolled, and the program is not required to provide an alternate clinical experience based on a students’ vaccine preference.

Nursing Department Chair Judy Scott said, “I am just trying to protect my students’ rights, our ability to give them the education that they need, and to give them the clinical experience they need.”

Tanner said as a nurse, she signed a contract, and nowhere in that contract does it state that they would get a vaccine in phase 4 clinical trials with only 1 year of data in humans.

Despite the contract that licensed nurses signed, According to The American Nurses Association and American Organization for Nursing Leadership worked together to implement a new statement for nursing students, “Nursing students who refuse a mandated COVID-19 vaccine could be diss-enrolled.”

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing released a statement that said any licensed nurses who spread any kind of medical misinformation will be disciplined by their board as well as have their license revoked.

Scott said: “Personally we may not like mandates, and many of us don’t, we also understand that we don’t have a choice…I don’t want to force anybody to do anything; however, I can’t give [students] the education they need if we do not follow what the hospital has mandated.”

Scott wants to continue to give her students the best education she can while still following state and hospital COVID-19 rules.

“As a healthcare professional, I believe I have to do all I can do to protect myself and the people I serve as a nurse,” said Scott.

The new halted OSHA law states that businesses with 100 or more employees will be required to follow this protocol by Jan. 4, 2022, or submit to weekly testing.

If requirements are not met, a business will be subject to a penalty of up to $13,653 for each violation of the ETS, and repeat offenders are subject to fine/s of $136,532 per violation. If enacted, The Build Back Better Act would raise the maximum violation fine to about $700,000.

Conservative states have disagreed with this ruling, thus the beginning of the lawsuits against the Biden administration. Twenty-six different states are currently suing the Biden administration over the OSHA mandate. Twenty-six states co-signed four petitions to legally challenge the pandemic-era safety requirements.

The lawsuits against the Biden administration focus on the argument that the vaccine mandate is an overreach of federal power. All 26 states disagree with Biden’s mandate requiring all federal contractors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 5.

The states argue that their workers will quit if the vaccine is mandated, they argue the mandate imposes a greater struggle on supply chains, labor markets and overall will cause disruption in the economy. These lawsuits cause the states to make a big decision, the choice between breaching the employees’ contracts or being in violation of allowing unvaccinated workers to continue their jobs.

However, this is not the case for healthcare workers and federal contractors. Biden’s executive order 14042 states that vaccines are mandatory for healthcare workers and federal contractors, and the extended deadline to be vaccinated is Jan. 18.

The vaccine mandate as well as these lawsuits from 26 states have caused protests to happen all over the state of Utah.