AKRON, Ohio (WJW)– More than 100 protestors gathered in front of Summa Health’s Akron campus on Market Street Monday night, upset over the hospitals newly-updated vaccine policy.
According to a spokesperson, as a, “Condition of employment” all employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 31. People can request medical exemptions, medical deferments and religious accommodations.
“Forty-one years of service, that’s how they’re treating their employees. That’s awful,” said employee Gene Kibby, who worked throughout the pandemic handling infectious waste and supports vaccines, but not the COVID vaccine because it’s still only approved for emergency use.
“I take the flu vaccine every year,” Kibby said. “We don’t know the short term and long-term effects of this. This hasn’t been fully vetted and I don’t feel it’s safe to take.”
The protestors chanted and sang patriotic songs. Some were fully vaccinated, but against the mandate. Others were patients and members of the community who came out to show support for the hospital workers.
“It’s against the Constitution to mandate anything medical,” Christine Gingrich said. “And a lot of people have had adverse effects from it, and a lot of health issues.”
In a statement a hospital spokesperson said, “We understand there are varying feelings about the COVID vaccine and we respect the right of people to peacefully share their perspective. Ultimately, our COVID vaccination policy is based on science and supports our mission and promise as healthcare organization to care for our community. The policy remains in place.”
But protestors are hoping they will change the policy and said the science surrounding COVID-19 is continually changing, pointing to recent cases reported by the CDC of those fully vaccinated catching and spreading the virus.
“The vaccines don’t guarantee that you’re not going to get COVID so why even take it. People say if you get it you won’t be as serious of a case, but you’re still getting it,” said Gingrich.
Another protest in front of the hospital is planned for Friday