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Nurses in Bakersfield protest California's vaccine mandate

“My body, my choice.”
Nurses protest mask mandate August 20, 2021
Posted at 4:23 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 23:08:32-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — “My body, my choice,” is just one of the chants from healthcare workers here in Bakersfield that took to the streets Friday to protest the California vaccine mandate.

These healthcare workers say they believe that they should have a choice as to whether they choose to get the vaccine. Some said they are even willing to get fired over not getting it, but they said who it will really hurt are the patients amid a nursing shortage.

Nurses from Dignity Health took to the streets Friday to protest the California COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The mandate announced August 5th requires all healthcare workers in California to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30th otherwise they will lose their jobs.

“I am willing to lose my job, like I said I’ve been at it for over 19 years I love it but I will not give in on this and it’s something I really feel firmly about,” said Tana Coffee.

Respiratory technician Carmen Garcia said she’s a single mom and she doesn’t know what’s going to happen come September 30th.

“I might have to find a new job, it’s scary but you know what, my God is bigger and my god is in control,” said Garcia.

Garcia says she’s not anti-vaccine but she’s anti-mandate and adds there’s not enough research on the vaccine so she doesn’t want to take the risk because her children need her.

“I’m a single mom of my four children and they depend solely on my income, what if I get severe side effects from the vaccine, what’s going to happen to my children?” said Garcia.

Nurse Sarah Castillo however does have the vaccine but still believes her coworkers should be given a choice.

“I am vaccinated that was my personal choice,” said Castillo. “But. I choose to stand with my coworkers who have decided not to, they’ve done their research, their belief is that they should not be getting this vaccine. My job is to stand with them, just like I would stand with any patient who refused treatment.”

She also said the atmosphere in the hospital among those who are okay with the mandate and those who are not is disheartening.

“To be honest, it’s a little demoralizing, we love our job, we love the people that we help, we love our community, we’re all here to support each other, but it’s hard knowing the people standing next to you in this battle may not be there the next day,” said Castillo.

Coffee also said we are amid a nursing shortage and this mandate is not helping it.

“It’s detrimental, there’s hospitals that have already laid off nurses over this, and they're already short-staffed and they are begging nurses to come work for them,” said Coffee.

Despite the protest Dignity Health, Mercy, and Memorial hospital’s said they will still comply with the state mandate and sent 23ABC this statement reading in part:

“Dignity Health is committed to making our communities safer and healthier and Mercy and Memorial Hospitals will comply with the state of California’s Public Health Order requiring health care workers in California hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and most health care settings be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30th. We appreciate and value meaningful dialogue and strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t already been vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so as quickly as possible.”