Hospitals Hit With Protests After Saying Employees Must Be Vaccinated: 'Stop Vax Bullying'

Hospitals throughout the country have been recently hit with protests, as some health care systems have begun requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk termination of employment.

More than 100 people gathered in rallies across Iowa and Michigan on Saturday to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates, chanting slogans such as "stop vax bullying," "my body, my choice, the land of the free," and "mandates belong in socialist countries," among others.

In Iowa, several Republican state lawmakers, including Representative Jeff Shipley and Senator Dennis Guth, gave speeches against required inoculation. During his speech, Shipley called vaccine mandates "a crime against humanity," while Guth said Iowans would become "mindless cattle" if "we don't stand up for freedom," the Des Moines Register reported.

Brei Johnson of Informed Choice Iowa, which organized the rally, told the Register that she believes vaccinations should be discussed between a health professional and patient, rather than a condition of employment.

"You can take off a mask but you can't undo a vaccine. That's a slippery slope to what comes next," Johnson said.

In Michigan, protesters – including several hospital workers – gathered outside of a hospital in Grand Rapids Saturday and held signs that said "No mandatory experimental jabs," and "COVID vaccine makers have zero liability."

Both demonstrations took place following the announcement that some local and national hospital systems will begin requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Anti-vaccine protesters
Over 100 protesters in Iowa and Michigan gathered in rally's on Saturday against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Here, anti-vaccine advocates talk to people at Capital Region International Airport October 27, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Trinity Health, a nationwide health care system with more than 90 hospitals and care facilities, announced that all of its employees will be mandated to get the vaccine as coronavirus cases continue to rise due to the Delta variant.

Trinity Health employs over 117,000 people across 22 states, including several hospitals in both Iowa and Michigan. According to a statement from the company, the health system estimated that nearly 75 percent of its employees had already received at least one dose of the vaccine prior to the July 8 mandate.

Now, all employees must submit proof of inoculation by September 21, with some exemptions for religious or health reasons, or else face termination of employment.

"We feel it is important that we take every step available to us to stop the spread and protect those around us-especially the most vulnerable in our communities who cannot be vaccinated including young children and the more than 10 million people who are immunocompromised," Trinity Health President and CEO Mike Slubowski said during the announcement.

In response to protests against the vaccine mandate, Trinity Health said on Saturday that it is their "responsibility" to take every step possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"As caregivers, it is our responsibility to take every step available to us to stop the spread and protect those around us — and that starts with the COVID-19 vaccine," the statement read, according to FOX 17. "While we support individuals' rights to have their opinions heard, we will continue to share the facts. With more than 336 million doses administered in the U.S., this vaccine is both extremely effective and safe."

"We ask people who choose to gather on our campuses to do so in a respectful manner and not interfere with the care we provide for our community members."

Newsweek contacted Trinity Health for an additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.