BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Hundreds of demonstrators lined the streets Wednesday around PeaceHealth in Bellingham supporting nurses who stand against the hospital’s requirement all healthcare workers receive a COVID vaccination.
PeaceHealth says the variant present a public health emergency across the state and calls the vaccination policy necessary to promote personal and community safety, but nurses say the mandate is an infringement of their rights.
Many protesters brought their families and nearly everyone held a sign. The show of support for front line healthcare workers was not in question.
"Our rights are being slammed every time you turn around," claimed demonstrator Michal Handy.
Earlier this month PeaceHealth announced all healthcare providers would have to be vaccinated by the end of August unless a medical exemption prevents them.
Wednesday, Whatcom County health officials said the COVID delta variant was spreading quickly and a mask mandate could return in the North Sound.
Those who helped coordinate Wednesday’s rally say they reached hundreds of supporters in just days.
"Instead of forcing and being heavy-handed, they should be a lot more open," said Arten Chuprin.
Chuprin says he works as an emergency room nurse and has seen what COVID can do to his patients. He has been on the front line for months, but added he is not ready to take a vaccine.
"The community has a lot of distrust, he said. "When you push them, going to multiply. I’m not against the vaccine"
Demonstrators say Wednesday’s planned rally would likely become a recurring demonstration should vaccines be required for nurses.
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