Local community protests Southeast Kansas hospital vaccine mandate


PITTSBURG, Ks. — Protestors lined the streets in Southeast Kansas in a stand against vaccination requirements in local hospitals.

On Saturday a protest was held in front of “Ascension Via Christi in Pittsburg” over its upcoming Coronavirus vaccine mandate.

Starting November 12th, all associates working at the hospital will be required to have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

At 1 PM protesters marched along and stood at the intersection of East Centennial Street and South Rouse Street.

Organizers say the protest was not meant to be an anti-vaccination protest, but more of a statement to protect people’s right to choose medical treatment.

Morgan Campbell, Protest Organizer & Registered Nurse, says, “We have people out here who have chosen not to get the vaccine, but we also have people out here who have chosen to get the vaccine, so it’s not about the vaccine, we’re out here against the mandate.”

“Anytime there is a medical decision, there is a choice, so if for instance someone is diagnosed with cancer, they are presented with treatment options and they’re allowed to choose, you are never forced into a medical decision, the patient always has the right to choose, as nurses, that decision has been taken away,” says Amanda Lehman, Protester & Registered Nurse.

The COVID-19 vaccination mandate aligns with the hospitals mandatory influenza vaccination mandate the healthcare system has been operating for years.

The “Ascension Via Christi in Pittsburg” president Drew Talbott issued a statement about the protest saying:
“We respect everyone’s right to peacefully voice their opinions about the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“We believe the current surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in our community clearly demonstrates the urgency for everyone eligible to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, our patients and staff, and our communities. We also know that serious illness and hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19 are largely preventable. We must do more to overcome this highly contagious virus as we provide safe environments for those we serve. Like numerous health systems across the country, Ascension is requiring that associates be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 12. This date aligns with the timing of the mandatory influenza vaccination program that we’ve operated successfully for many years. When someone is unable to get vaccinated due to a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief, Ascension has a process for requesting an exemption, just as we long have had for the annual influenza vaccine.”
“This decision is rooted in our Mission commitment to leading with quality and safety. As a healthcare provider and Catholic ministry, ensuring a culture of safety for our associates, patients and communities is foundational to our work.”

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