Health care workers against Novant, Atrium vaccine mandate protest in Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. — A group of nurses and other health care professionals will be in Raleigh on Wednesday to plead their case to state lawmakers. Faced with losing their jobs if they don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, they say they want freedom of choice.

Both Atrium Health and Novant Health have given those workers an ultimatum. Atrium said all employees must be vaccinated by the end of October. Novant’s employees must be vaccinated by Sept. 15.

Many of those employees will be in the state’s capitol Wednesday, hoping to convince lawmakers to intervene.

We want to have the freedom of choice and be able to stay at our jobs,” one nurse told Channel 9.

She plans to be at the protest in Raleigh. She didn’t want to be identified, but said she believes there isn’t enough research behind the vaccine to make her comfortable.

“If I want to wait a few years to get some long-term research on an experimental vaccine, then I think I should have the right to do so,” she said.

She’s not alone. At Freedom Park over the weekend, hundreds of demonstrators made it clear they believe Atrium and Novant are wrong for mandating staff get vaccinated.

An emergency room doctor from Atrium spoke to those protesters.

“When I look at this, I say we have taken an oath. We have made a commitment to protect patients and save lives. Vaccinations save lives and I hope that people come around and get vaccinated,” said Dr. Dave Calloway.

“We as a group, we don’t care if you get the vaccine or you don’t -- what we care about is having the choice and not being forced to do something, then possibly lose our livelihood,” the nurse said.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said companies can require employees to get vaccinated, barring any disability or religious belief.

Both hospitals have that stipulation.

(WATCH BELOW: Hundreds gather at Freedom Park to protest Atrium, Novant Health’s employee vaccine mandate)