Healthcare workers, community members protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates

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With vaccine mandates on the rise across the nation and locally at both Essentia Health and St. Luke’s, opposition is also growing.

On a busy street corner in Downtown Duluth Thursday, local healthcare workers and others against mandating the shot gathered to voice their concerns.

“In America, we’ve always had the freedom to choose and I just think it’s a dangerous position to be in to be forced to have to do something,” Kathryn Kallberg, an ICU nurse at a local hospital said.

Kallberg added that the vaccine has not been fully FDA approved yet and that healthcare workers should have rights over their own bodies.

“All of the patients that we take care of in the hospital are given the opportunity to say no to any medications and procedures and so we just want that right also,” Kallberg said.

Erin Morgan, a healthcare professional at another local facility, said "no jab is worth the job".

“I am also a Christian. I believe that God will illuminate a new path for me if I decide to walk out because of this," Morgan said.

Others present said they wanted to support local healthcare workers following Essentia Health and St. Luke’s recent decision to mandate vaccines.

“I think it’s very important to support the community,” a community member who wished to remain anonymous said. “We need to stand now for the nurses.”

Some said instead of the vaccine mandate, they’d like to see health screenings when people enter work and/or additional testing for COVID-19.

Both Essentia Health and St. Luke’s are offering religious and medical exemptions for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.