(WMBD) — Wednesday morning, Sept. 8, just one person drove to Springfield for a peaceful protest in front of the capitol building.
The protest is organized by Angela Hert, a nurse at The Loft in Eureka. She is against the vaccine mandates in place.
Right now, healthcare workers are required to either get the vaccine or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Hert said she believes it should not be forced on anyone.
“It should be everyone’s choice, you know, to what they put in their body,” Hert said. “It’s all about our constitutional rights, our rights to privacy.”
Dr. Brian Curtis, Director of Physician Practice at OSF HealthCare, said mandatory vaccinations are nothing new in the healthcare world.
“Healthcare’s been mandating vaccinations for years now,” Dr. Curtis said. “This is an altruistic response, and so, as a physician and as a healthcare worker, you’ve kind of dedicated your life to the treatment of others, and that includes preventing the spread of illness to others.”
Dr. Curtis said he cannot speak to Hert’s argument about the mandate going against people’s rights, but reiterated that this is nothing new in healthcare.
“Whenever you come into healthcare, you have to demonstrate that you’ve had the MMR, varicella and that you get your yearly influenza vaccines,” he said.
Hert said much of her beliefs on the issue stem from her personal experience working at The Loft.
“In our facility, in 2020, we had one COVID case on our COVID unit the whole year,” Hert said. “Our building did not have a COVID outbreak until three and four weeks after people in our building were vaccinated, and we ended up with almost 30 people on our COVID floor, all vaccinated patients except one.”
Dr. Curtis said this argument is invalid.
“It’s more of an observational phenomenon,” Curtis said. “It turns into more of an anecdotal experience… the ones that are vaccinated that are getting hospitalized usually have a secondary medical condition that would predispose them to be hospitalized anyway.”
He said at OSF, almost all patients are unvaccinated. He said there wouldn’t be such a strain in medical resources if everyone was vaccinated against COVID-19.
“So when you look at our hospital admissions really throughout the country, you’re seeing about over 95 percent of the total beds that are being occupied are from unvaccinated people.”
Hert said she thinks people should not be villainized if they choose not to get vaccinated.
“People that choose not to, they shouldn’t be penalized or persecuted,” Hert said.
Dr. Curtis said he understands that not everyone can get vaccinated, and he also understands vaccine hesitancy. He said a lot of it is driven by fear.
“The best way to approach that is really in a nonjudgmental way,” he said, “having an open and honest discussion about the data and the science behind it.”