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'Make way for individual freedoms:' Siskiyou health care workers protest mandatory flu vaccinations

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Healthcare workers protested mandatory flu vaccines in front of the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

Protesters lined the sidewalks outside of the Siskiyou County courthouse Tuesday, Oct. 6 in protest of a recently released flu vaccine mandate ordered by Siskiyou Public Health Director Dr. Aaron Stutz.

The mandate states that all healthcare workers and personnel must receive a mandatory flu vaccination.

Healthcare workers and members of the public spoke during public comment at the Board of Supervisors meeting. Stutz was not present.

Multiple people said they believe the order negates personal choice, and stated that they had their own personal concerns about a vaccination that some had never received before.

Healthcare workers protested mandatory flu vaccines in front of the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

Lori Williamson-Dixon, who is a Siskiyou County healthcare worker, said she has never had a flu vaccine, due to a familial history of bad reactions to vaccines. 

“A petition was signed online by over 1,200 residents against mandatory vaccinations,” she said. “A mandatory vaccination does not allow a person to consent and therefore is a violation of a basic human right.” 

Williamson-Dixon, went on to say that at the state level, vaccinations are only a recommendation, not a requirement, and those who do not accept the vaccination are required to wear a mask. 

MORE:Now some Siskiyou County health workers are upset over compulsory flu shots

“The order issued by public health is going further than the State of California ... We are not against vaccination, we are against mandatory vaccination for employment,” Williamson-Dixon, said.

Emily Nelson, who works in three counties, including Siskiyou as an ultrasound technician, said last year she had a terrible reaction to a flu vaccine she received. 

“I had seizures for eight months, and I still have a rash,” she said. “I have a medical exemption now, but I had to go through a year of disease. This is why we need consent,” Nelson said. “There’s absolute medical risk for any drug you put in your body. Vaccines aren’t any different.”

Healthcare workers protested mandatory flu vaccines in front of the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.

Registered Nurse Jenny Fisher asked the Board of Supervisors and Public Health if they’d “ever stopped to consider the harmful implications this could have?” 

She said medical professionals are willing to leave their jobs over this issue. 

“Siskiyou County already lives in the state of limited healthcare and resources. With the flu vaccine mandate, dozens of health care workers are ready to leave their jobs,” said Fisher. “When you have just one person call in sick, it disrupts daily operations. If you have multiple people leave, it could potentially shut a hospital down ... I stand before you, asking you to rise up and make way for our individual freedoms. Rescind the mandate.”

Since the item was discussed during public comment, there was no action taken by the board of supervisors on the matter.

A patient receives a flu shot Sept. 24 in Pittsfield, Mass. Flu shots are strongly encouraged this year due to COVID-19.