CLEVELAND — Protesters gathered Friday outside the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals days after a vaccine mandate for employees was announced at both hospital systems.
Almost all of the protesters News 5 spoke with said they were not Clinic or UH employees.
Caryn Szczepinski, who says she is a nurse practitioner at the Cleveland Clinic, showed up to protest the recently announced vaccine mandate.
“I respect my body and I think it’s your own medical right that you should be able to decline it,” she said.”I want to stand up with my fellow coworkers and I want to stand up for medical freedom.”
The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals announced last week they were implementing the vaccine mandate to comply with the federal mandates for healthcare systems regulated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Clinic said healthcare employees who are not fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022 and who do not have a religious or medical exemption that can be accommodated will no longer be able to work for the Cleveland Clinic.
Cleveland Clinic issued the following statement regarding the protest Friday:
We understand that there are caregivers in our health system and in hospitals across the U.S. who oppose the COVID-19 vaccination requirements announced by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). However, these federal mandates are clear that healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated at hospitals regulated by CMS.
As a health system, if we do not comply with the CMS vaccination requirements this would have a direct and extraordinary impact on our ability to care for patients, including potentially limiting critical health services we can offer.
We value each of our caregivers and are proud that the majority of our caregivers are already vaccinated. We are strongly encouraging those who are not yet vaccinated to receive their vaccine as quickly as possible so they can continue helping us care for our community.
University Hospitals issued the following statement regarding the protest:
Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to protect against severe illness from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, and to limit the spread to others.
UH is required, as a provider of care to Medicare and Medicaid patients, to comply with the vaccine mandate issued by the federal government for health care providers.
The overwhelming majority of our caregivers are vaccinated against COVID-19 and we encourage those who remain unvaccinated to receive their shots. Throughout this pandemic, our caregivers have continued to rise to the occasion to serve our community, our patients, and to take care of each other.
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
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