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Protest against IU Health COVID-19 vaccination mandate draws crowd on the canal

Hundreds gathered for the demonstration Saturday
Posted at 6:19 PM, Jun 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 12:58:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Around 200 people gathered outside IU Health’s Fairbanks Hall on Saturday to protest the healthcare system's COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

One of those protesters was Derek Sauls.

“I’ve been mad, well since June 1 when the news came out,” said Sauls, who is a facilities worker at Riley Hospital for Children.

“It’s a job I’ve loved for 12 years and I’m really not happy about the choice to leave it,” said Sauls.

Many demonstrators say they feel cornered by the mandate: get the shot or lose their job. Some holding signs during the protest that read ‘Forced Consent is not Consent’ and 'Let me call my own shots.’

“Everyone should have their own ability to judge that and decide if it’s right for them and when you have your job held up against you, it makes it really tough to make that decision,” said Jennifer Fluhr, an R.N. at IU Health’s Riley Hospital for Children.

Many of the protesters were IU Health workers, but others, like Joan Billman ,were just there to show support.

“I’m here because it is just not right,” said Billman.

Throughout the demonstration, several people spoke about their personal reasons why they do not want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Others say they feel they shouldn’t need a reason, they just want it to be their choice.

“I’m here to make my voice among these hundreds of people here heard by the management who would try to push this on employees under threat pressure of losing our jobs,” said Sauls.

“We’re all patients too and we give our patients the right to autonomy, we give our patients the right to refuse and we should have that as well,” said Fluhr.

The hope of the group was that the rally would help impact change and specifically sway IU Health leadership to rescind the mandate. If the mandate remains as is, some say they will be forced to look for new employment.

“I’m going to have to and I’m going to be sad about it,” said Sauls.