MERIDIAN, Idaho (CBS2) — On Monday crowds protested St. Luke's decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine for its employees.
Hundreds of people rallied outside of the St. Luke's Meridian campus to foster support and awareness. The protesters say they're not anti-vaccine, they're pro-freedom of choice.
The folks that showed up at St. Luke's say all they want is to maintain their individual liberties. Hundreds of protesters attended the event, earning honks of support from passing drivers.
They're asking that healthcare employers don't require workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. And some families of healthcare professionals would rather see them get a new job than comply with the vaccine requirement.
"It goes against everything we believe in," Kayla Dunn, one of the protesters, said. "We can't do that. He's gonna have to find another career or he's gonna have to move outta state because we came here to support businesses such as St. Luke's, so I don't know what we're gonna do. He's the only income in the family right now."
And it wasn't just healthcare workers and their families at the rally, but future healthcare workers as well. Some even came from as far away as Coeur D'Alene to lend their support to the anti-mandate movement.
"Just go back to common sense," protester Amy Wall said. "Stay home if you're sick, wash your hands. Don't live in fear. Stress really impacts your immune system. Just be smart."
Children could be seen running around, playing with one another while their parents protested, as entire families took to the sidewalk. And many at the rally were ordinary people, not in the healthcare field, but still eager to lend their support to the healthcare workers who disagree with the mandate policy.
"I would recommend that the head honchos at these medical facilities rethink their policy about kickin' the nurses to the street, because they're a valuable asset to the Treasure Valley and the whole of Idaho," Dan Murphy, one of the rally attendees, said.
Seventy-seven percent of St. Luke's employees are fully vaccinated. And the hospital said they're requiring the vaccine for the remaining 23 percent to protect patients, staff, and the community from a communicable disease.
St. Luke's Health System announced earlier this month that it would mandate employees to get a vaccine -- unless they had an approved exemption. The hospital has set a deadline for its employees to get one by Sept. 1.
“Safety is a top priority for St. Luke’s, as is our obligation to protect our staff, patients, and communities from vaccine-preventable disease,” said Chris Roth, president and CEO said earlier this month.