Healthcare workers and supporters rally against mandate
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD – Nurses, other health care workers, family and friends, and supporters held a rally Aug. 12 against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for employees of Marshfield Clinic and the Marshfield Medical Center.
Dozens carried signs, waved flags, and chanted through bullhorns, as they got support from motorists shouting and honking their horns, as they passed by the dozens of demonstrators along the sidewalks in front of Marshfield’s Hillside Cemetery, and directly across from the medical complex.
The group was showing and voicing their opposition to Marshfield Clinic’s plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees by November 15. Carrying a sign that read, “Stop the Mandates,” Rose Morgan of Wittenberg, who’s worked at the Clinic for 14 years, said getting the vaccine should be her choice, and no one else’s.
“I don’t think it’s right for us to be given an ultimatum — the vaccine or your job. It shouldn’t be a mandate, and it shouldn’t be forced on us to lose our job and our livelihood. That’s what will happen if you don’t get the vaccine – you lose your job, no if’s, and’s or but’s. I have asked if we could have the nasal swab instead of the vaccine. Haven’t heard back on that. We’ll see. They said things could change. But we have until Nov. 15, and if we’re not fully vaccinated, they will fire us. It puts me in a very tough spot since I did have a health scare this year, and I need the insurance. A lot of sleepless nights since the mandate.”
Christine Cwiklo of Marshfield is a registered nurse with Aspirus in Wausau, and once worked for Marshfield Clinic but said she left because of their flu shot mandate.
“I’m here to support my fellow health care workers and their right to bodily autonomy. We have the right to choose our health care. We support our patients. We support the staff. But ultimately, we are not being supported in our right to choose how we want to live. The problem is that this vaccine doesn’t prevent COVID. It doesn’t prevent transmission. We can’t force people to get it. It doesn’t work that way,” she said.
“You’d walk off the job just so you wouldn’t have to get the COVID vaccine?”
“Yes, I would.”
Brooke Feltz of Milladore is an independent nurse now doing home health care. She worked as a pediatric nurse at Marshfield Clinic between 2014 and 2016, and carried a sign that said, “I Stand For Freedom.” She does not plan to get the vaccine.
“We have a big thing called Informed Consent in the medical community, and right now they can’t tell us everything that’s going into it (the vaccine). They can’t tell us what the effects are long-term, so people are having an issue with that. It’s your choice. If you wanna get it, get it. If you don’t want it, you shouldn’t have to. Nobody should be forced. The military shouldn’t be forced. The RN’s, the doctors, nobody, and we’re having a big problem in this country with them forcing people to do things that we don’t want to do with our bodies. We have autonomy with ourselves, and we respect that with patients, and we would ask that you guys would respect that in return,” she said.
Marshfield Clinic officials announced last week its employees would face mandatory vaccinations. The timing, according to a Clinic news release, aligns with the health system’s annually-required flu vaccine process. CEO Dr. Susan Turney said the vaccines are key to stopping the virus, and the mandate is based on an increase in COVID cases, due mainly to the increase in the number of illnesses related to the Delta variant.