ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Following a mandate from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring all hospital staff to be vaccinated, hundreds came out in Rochester Monday evening protesting the move.
People chanted “freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom!” as cars passed by Strong Memorial Hospital.
“I am out here today because my husband is on the verge of losing his job,” Heidi Willert of Walworth said. “He supports me and my four children. I homeschool them, and I’m teaching them that’s it’s important to stand for freedom.”
Willert’s husband works as a locksmith at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and believes getting any vaccine should be a choice and not forced by the government.
“For us, it’s faith, but it’s also a moral issue, it’s a keeping our freedom and our country issue,” Willert said. “I want to teach my kids that if it’s forced, how can it be free?”
A University of Rochester student walking by gave her thoughts about the protest and the vaccine mandate.
“Yeah, I’m definitely pro-vaccine, they definitely work,” said graduate student Shanna Coop. “I think that before, maybe there was an argument that they can’t make them mandatory because they weren’t fully FDA approved, but now it is."
Some chants and signs read “my body, my choice” when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The thing is, you have a choice whether you want to be a health care worker or not right,” Coop said. “So I definitely agree vaccines should not be forced on everybody. But you have a choice to whether not you want to be a health care worker or not.”
“If my husband chooses to stick by his convictions, he’s going to lose his job,” Willert said. “We may have to move out of state, he may have to work two jobs to support us. I’m not sure what the future is. We have a strong faith in God.”
Currently, New York State requires all workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 27.