Small Group of UMass Memorial Workers Protests Hospital's Vaccine Mandate

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A small group of health care workers at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester took part in a protest against the hospital's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The hospital announced plans in August to require staff to be vaccinated amid a spike in cases as the delta variant spread. Many others in the area have announced similar policies.

"We've thoroughly reviewed the science behind the vaccines, are following guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and feel this is the best way to keep our caregivers and patients safe from this horrible disease that keeps getting stronger," Dr. Eric Dickson, the health care system's president and CEO, said in a staff memo reported by the Telegram & Gazette. "We have the same mission as we did last spring – to save as many lives as possible during this pandemic – and the vaccine is the best way to do that."

Sunday morning, about a dozen protesters could be seen holding signs on the corner of Plantation Street and Belmont Street, near the hospital's University Campus. As of 2019, there were more than 7,000 employees at UMass Memorial Medical Center, according to the hospital's website.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which had previously opposed vaccine mandates, reversed course and favors requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, the Boston Globe reported in August. The state's largest nurse union noted conditions including workplace vaccine availability, paid sick time in cases where people have reactions and "safe staffing levels" would have to be met.

"We really don't have a lot of pushback," MNA President Katie Murphy told the Globe. "We feel that this will protect ourselves, our patients, and our communities and it's an important tool in ending this pandemic."

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