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Dozens protest Banner Health’s vaccine mandate for employees

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:57 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some healthcare workers say they are going from the frontlines to the unemployment lines as facilities announce employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Starting Nov. 1, most employees with Banner Health will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs if they refuse.

A couple dozen people gathered outside Banner Health’s main campus in Tucson to protest the vaccine requirement.

The protest consisted of Banner Health employees, their families, and community members.

“I’m nervous,” said Marian Machado.

Machado said she has worked as a nurse for 11 years. While she is not a Banner Health employee, she said she attended the protest in support of healthcare workers who, like her, have chosen not to get vaccinated.

“I love being able to take Alzheimer’s patients who really are very confused, disoriented and make their day brighter and bring some joy to their life,” Machado said.

But Machado doesn’t have that job anymore. About two months ago, she said, her employer began mandating COVID-19 vaccines.

“If we are not vaccinated, we are automatically on a mandated leave of absence, and then if we are still not vaccinated within the next 30 days, we will be considered to have voluntarily resigned,” Machado said.

Machado said she chose not to get vaccinated for both religious beliefs and medical reasons.

“I might be able to be given an exemption, but I’m still not able to work,” Machado said.

Another protestor, who identified himself only as Lonny, said he has no affiliation with Banner Health. Lonny said he is fully vaccinated, and wants others to be able to make that decision for themselves.

“If somebody decides for whatever reason after consulting with their doctor that they don’t want to get vaccinated, that should be their choice,” he said.

Tucson Medical Center Healthcare said it will also require employees to get vaccinated.

TMC sent an email to employees that said they must get at least one dose of the vaccine by Sept. 1.

Machado said one of her first questions when applying for nursing jobs is about vaccine requirements. With Banner and TMC, she said, now mandating vaccinations, she may have trouble finding another nursing position.

“I am now trying to think of alternative careers at 57 years of age,” Marian said.

The group said they will plan more protests prior to the Nov. 1 deadline.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.