MAHONING TOWNSHIP, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Geisinger employees as well as members of the Montour County community are coming together to protest the new Geisinger vaccine mandate.
“I’m out here just supporting these brave frontline workers who are about to lose their jobs in a matter of weeks,” said Bill Huntington, protester.
Huntington is referring to Geisinger’s new policy saying all employees must be vaccinated by November 1.
“People who were our heroes last year, who we were all thanking, are not villains because they won’t take this injection. It is inconceivable,” said Huntington.
Some employees have filled out an exemption form in order to avoid getting the vaccine.
“I’m basically here to stand up for my freedoms and make a choice for myself for the vaccine, if I want it or not. I’m not against vaccines, but I’m against mandating them so other people have to chose for you,” said Talitha Richardson, respiratory therapist, Geisinger Medical Center.
Richardson said she is willing to lose her job if they deny her exemption request.
“If they can keep people from working in other fields too and keep… I mean what else is there going to be done. Now there’s states where people can’t go into certain businesses or get food if they aren’t vaccinated. They have to show vaccination cards. I think that’s a problem,” she said.
Police escorted protestors as they marched from Weis to Geisinger Medical Center Danville.
“We’re just here to make sure everyone is safe. Making sure no one is in traffic getting hurt in any way shape or form. We’re going to help them get up to the campus. That’s where they’re going and want to be so we’re going to get them there,” said Danville Police Chief Jon Swank.
Protestors are expected to remain at the hospital for the majority of the day.
The chief administrative officer for Geisinger’s central region made the following statement Tuesday morning.
“We support our employees and respect their right to voice their opinions. As we face another surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, the science is clear that the vaccine is our best hope to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent more dangerous and contagious variants from taking hold in our communities. Requiring all Geisinger employees to be vaccinated fulfills our obligation to do everything we can to protect our patients, their families and each other. And it also helps protect our friends and neighbors — who rely on us every day for high-quality, accessible care — by making sure we have the staff available to provide it. An exemption process is available for those who have a documented and very specific medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that precludes them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.”Megan Brosious, Chief Administrative Officer
Geisinger also released information on their decision to have all employees vaccinated against COVID-19.