Texas healthcare workers, who are risking termination if they don’t get a COVID–19 vaccine, protested employer vaccine mandates in Dallas and Fort Worth on Saturday. Others facing such mandates are being encouraged to do likewise, and Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature have been asked to take action.

Fort Worth

Several gathered in front of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital on Saturday to protest employer vaccine mandates. “We’re not anti-vaccine; we’re anti-mandate,” said Nova, a GI endoscopy nurse. “Nobody should tell us what chemicals we can and can’t put in our bodies.”

Tammy, who works in ancillary services imaging, warned exemptions can’t be counted on. “They’ve gotten rid of most of the exemptions, and they’ve also come down on doctors and told them not to sign the exemptions by threat of losing their license,” she explained. “That’s why you’re not going to see a lot of doctors out here. … Many of them were forced to take the vaccine, or lose their hospital privileges.”

Amber, a respiratory therapist, expressed a particular moral objection to the COVID–19 vaccines. “There have been studies showing that [there are]  fetal tissues. I absolutely do not agree with that,” she said. “I’m not saying that I won’t get it later on down the line. I just need it to be out there and tested before they mandate us.” Amber added she would quit if hospitals don’t end the vaccine mandates.

Olivia Del La Vega, a certified nurse-midwife, warns employer vaccine mandates could be around the corner for other industries. “If this mandate can get us and other large companies, it’s going to come for your job, and it’s going to come for everybody’s job.”

Dallas

Later that afternoon, many gathered to protest next to Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Dallas.

“I don’t think we should have to be forced to take an experimental vaccine to keep our jobs,” said Rochelle, a medical professional at the Dallas protest.

“I think this started escalating as soon as Houston fell and more and more hospitals were starting it,” said Jane, a medical professional at the protest. “Last time I checked, there’s almost 100 now that are doing this.”

“I don’t understand why they’re making us take these shots when there are other options on the way,” Rochelle added. The other options she referred are protein-based vaccines, such as Novavax, which she said is in its third week of clinical trials. Rochelle explained protein-based vaccines use dead viruses to make your body create immunity toward live viruses, while mRNA has your body create the protein spike. “But it never tells it when to turn it off.”

Citizen Solidarity

Even citizens who do not work in the healthcare industry joined the protests.

“You’re a tyrant if you tell somebody, ‘You take this, or you don’t work here anymore,’” said Kelly Burke in Dallas. “You’re a tyrant if you tell somebody, ‘Take this vaccination, or stay away from me.’”

“What we believe in is the idea that businesses in a capitalist society should be held liable for what they do to their employees,” said Andy Hopper of Wise County Conservatives at the Fort Worth protest. “The only reason this has happened is that we have systematically instated liability protections from businesses.”

“The point is the Constitution still stands,” Chad Miller, also of WCC, said. “The Texas Bill of Rights still stands, and none of this should be allowed right now.”

Call to Action

For those facing similar mandates, nurse Lauren Hughes, one of the protest organizers, encourages citizens to act. “It just takes one person. I’m nobody special, and now we’ve united hundreds and hundreds of people,” Hughes told the crowd. “You can be that person for your work for your hospital for your system.”

Her recommendations included starting a Facebook page, organizing marches, and petitioning your CEO. She also recommended having a specific action plan. “Our plan was we wanted our philosophical exemptions back so that our strongly held reasons for not wanting the vaccine could be heard.” Another action has been calling into work.

Special Session Action

Everyone interviewed was asked if Abbott and the Legislature should get involved in this situation, to which most said yes.

“I would like him to stop the mandate and protect nurses and healthcare workers,” Nova said.

Del La Vega wants Abbott to put State Sen. Bob Hall‘s (R–Edgewood) ban on vaccine mandates for employees and citizens at the top of the special session agenda. “Everyone in the State of Texas would be protected by Bob Hall’s bill, and Greg Abbott refuses to put it on the agenda.” At the Dallas protest, Hall discussed his Senate Bill 24, coauthored with State Sen. Angela Paxton (R–McKinney), which would prohibit employer vaccine mandates. Hall hopes Gov. Abbott will put on the special session agenda, adding that concerned citizens should contact Abbott.

Not all who oppose the mandates agree the state should get involved, like James, whose wife works in healthcare and is at risk of losing her job. “I’m kind of a libertarian. It’s private businesses’ choice to do this,” he said. However, he supports fighting the mandates. “Stand up to this tyranny. Shut it down.”