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Baptist Health employees protest COVID vaccine mandate

Employees of Baptist Health Hardin protested outside of the hospital on August 4, 2021 over a...
Employees of Baptist Health Hardin protested outside of the hospital on August 4, 2021 over a decision announced by the healthcare company requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.(Source: Marty Pearl, WAVE 3 News)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 2:02 PM EDT
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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - With cases of the delta variant on the rise, more employers in the Commonwealth are now demanding employees get the coronavirus vaccine. That includes Baptist Health. The new mandates are not coming without a fight.

Early in 2021 - from restaurants to small businesses - many employers in Kentucky started requiring staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Legal experts say they have the right to, but some of the major health care providers didn’t ask their employees to get vaccinated until now.

Two of the area’s largest hospital systems - Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health - say the delta variant is causing a spike in cases and is one reason for the vaccine requirement. Some employees told WAVE 3 News they think it makes sense, but some health care workers in Elizabethtown who don’t agree protested across the street from their employer - Baptist Health Hardin.

“I actually have religious views about the vaccine, said Brittany Smith, a Baptist Health Hardin employee, “however there are several people who will not be eligible for the exemption that will be forced or fired.”

“I feel like the hospital overstepped in deciding for me this medical choice,” said Ashleigh Marcum, another employee. “I feel like the choice of any medical intervention should be left to the individual on a case by case basis.”

Baptist Health said approximately 70 percent of their nearly 23,000 employees have received the vaccine as they want to ensure the health and safety of staff, providers and patients. While Baptist Health hasn’t announced the date yet for the vaccine requirement to be fulfilled, Norton Healthcare says all it’s employees will need to get the shot by Wednesday, September 15.

Baptist Health Hardin says nearly all of the COVID deaths in 2021 have been people who were unvaccinated.

A statement says, “While we respect the staff’s rights to express their opinions peacefully, we ultimately have the responsibility to protect the community members we are here to serve. Vaccinations reduce overall hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and death.”

UofL Health was the first WAVE Country healthcare company to announce a mandatory COVID vaccine policy. That announcement was made back in May. The deadline for UofL Health employees to get fully vaccinated is September 1.

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