INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Hundreds of people came on the hottest day of the year to protest an IU Health mandate requiring employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The organizers were pleased with the participation of health care workers and others who support the cause.
The protest took place on Saturday afternoon at the start of the downtown canal in the shadow of several buildings at IU Health and Indiana University School of Medicine. Chastity Drennan and other IU Health workers want to force the healthcare group to make the choice to either get the COVID shot or lose their jobs.
âIt’s very touching,â Drennan said. “There were a couple of times where I was almost in tears because of everyone getting together because when all of this happened I really thought I was alone.”
Drennan’s reluctance stems from several reasons: the short duration of the vaccine, the lack of long-term studies and data on the effects, and pressure from employers to get one or deal with the consequences.
âWe are educated enough to save your life. We are educated enough to stand up for our patients, âDrennan said. “But aren’t we smart enough or medically educated enough to stand up for our rights or our freedom to choose what we put in our bodies?” “
Chastity’s mother-in-law, Teresa Rinnert, was not vaccinated, but she said, âMy husband did,â and then she laughed.
Her husband went out on Saturday wearing the same red “My Body, My Choice” shirt.
âHe’s not worried about side effects,â Rinnert said. âHe’s okay with that. I am worried about the side effects. We don’t know enough about it, but I want to stand up for it because I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I don’t want them to deal with these warrants later.
The protest lasted for hours and included remarks from state and congressional officials, anti-vaccine activists and IU Health employees.
An online petition against IU Health’s efforts now has 11,000 signatures.
Yet from now on, IU Health employees must be fully immunized by September 1 and Community health network employees by September 15, otherwise they will suffer the consequences.
Employees can request exemptions for medical or religious reasons, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Drennan hopes Saturday’s participation, especially in the heat, sends a message. “I hope IU Health opens their eyes to this.”
IU Health refused to provide us with anything on Saturday beyond their statement when they made the June 1 announcement.