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IU Health employees organize protest against COVID-19 vaccine requirement

The hospital system announced all employees would need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 1. Not everyone is happy with that.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some IU Health workers don't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They are planning a protest Saturday against the requirement from their employer.

IU Health is requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 1 or lose their job.

"You get the vaccine or you lose your ability to provide for your family. You lose your health care. That's not a choice. That's a threat. And that's backing us into a corner," said IU Health employee Traci Staley. "And many don't want to have to make that choice, but are at the point that they're willing to stand up for medical freedom."

Staley has worked for IU Health for six years in a position where she has no direct contact with patients. She started a Facebook group for workers opposed to the vaccine mandate. In a week, it has grown to more than 3,000 members.

"It's against my beliefs. I will not be getting it," Staley said. "However, speaking as a group, we have people from all different sides of this. We have people that are completely against it. We have people that are on the fence and just want to wait until there's more long-term studies."

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IU Health told 13News about 61 percent of its 36,000 employees are already vaccinated.

"Vaccinating team members is a safe and effective way to protect patients and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in facilities and in the community," said Chief Medical Executive Dr. David Ingram.

The protest is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. on the Indy Canal Walk behind IU Health Fairbanks Hall, near the 10th Street bridge.

Employees can apply for an exemption for medical and religious reasons. Staley has received previous exemptions for the flu shot.

"We all have the right to our own bodily autonomy," Staley said. "Vaccine shouldn't be a condition of our employment. Even with exemptions, it can lead to medical discrimination and medical segregation."

An online petition against the mandate has collected about 8,400 signatures since it launched a week ago.

Some opponents of the vaccine mandate argue a vaccine with only emergency use authorization should not be required for employment. Both Pfizer and Moderna have begun the process to get their vaccines fully approved by the FDA.

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