Healthcare workers protest vaccine mandates in Medford. Teachers next?

Yesterday evening, I witnessed hundreds of healthcare workers peacefully publicly protest outside Providence LATER Hospital in Medford. They were supported by friends and family members along with motorcycle groups and lots of decorated pickups. They got a horn blast by a passing fire engine and one public transportation bus.

Unlike the professional protesters in Portland last summer, these folks held handmade signs showing a wide diversity of handwriting styles and arguments. All were opposed to mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers. Here are a few examples:

“Why mandate a vaccine that is not effective?”

“Resist – No jabs or masks”

“The Delta Variant is the ‘Fool me twice’ part”

“My body, my choice. No vaxx”

“It’s about freedom”

“RN 4 Medical Freedom”

“KOMMIE KATE TQ GITMO” (Yes, it had a “Q” in the word “To”)

Some were held by teens and tweens:

“The Tyranny will never end! What kind of world are you leaving for us?”

“It’s not a real medicine. It should scare you.”

“My parents decide what’s best for me”

“Compliance is supporting and enabling tyranny”

These examples came from just one photograph taken by my friend and professional videographer Marc Salvatore.

I spoke to several protesters at the event. None wanted to be quoted by name. This is for obvious reasons: their jobs are at stake, and they know it. Here are a few comments to consider:

“My wife has to make a choice. Get the vax to save her 19-year career as a nurse. Or refuse the vax and we lose our home.”

“The vax isn’t safe and it doesn’t work.”

“I will get the vax is I have to but will sign the consent form as ‘under duress.’ If I lose my job I lose my home and I don’t want to be homeless.”

“We did not vote for this mandate nor did our legislature pass a law. In fact, our governor is violating our natural rights guaranteed by our Oregon constitution.” She gave me a leaflet quoting our Oregon Constitution.

I spoke to Carol, a retired nurse with 40 years of experience. She said, “I’m so glad I retired. Nurses were never treated like this in the past.”

School teachers were never treated to vaccine mandates either. I quote two teachers below.

“Get vaxxed or get fired” is a common concern by hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers in Josephine and Jackson counties.

This morning I received an email with similar concerns expressed by two local teachers:

Teacher 1: “I’m dumbfounded that something like this is literally being forced on me. It’s incredibly manipulative. It’s one thing to make the ‘vaccine’ a regulation for new employees where they have the option to find other employment. But it’s completely disrespectful to expect long-term employees to adhere to such demands.” 

Teacher 2: “I am extremely disheartened by the mandate from Kate Brown. We teachers are beginning our third covid effected school year. We have done everything we have been asked. We’ve masked, we’ve socially distanced, we’ve zoomed and persevered through CDL, all the while keeping our students and staff safe. A mandate now is just bizarre and unethical. We already have jobs that can’t be filled, substitutes are nowhere to be found, there is a major shortage. Kate Brown is hurting our kids and our community by driving amazing teachers out of a profession that they love.” 

Who’s next? Police officers, firefighters, or coffee baristas?

We need to get involved and support our local teachers and healthcare professionals. Even “fully vaccinated” people express safety concerns about getting a third shot. The issue is medical freedom and the time to act is now.

Richard Emmons is the Publisher and Editor of the Josephine County Eagle.

Photography credit to Marc Salvatore