Hundreds gather outside Dallas’ Baylor hospital to protest vaccination mandates
More than 200 health-care workers and others gathered outside Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas on Saturday to protest the requirement by a growing number of hospital systems that employees get COVID-19 vaccination shots.
Baylor Scott & White, Methodist Health System and Texas Health Resources all announced vaccine mandates for employees in late July. Children’s Health in Dallas and Cook Children’s in Fort Worth followed suit this week.
Protesters lined up along both sides of CBD-Fair Park Link, near the intersection with Junius Street, holding signs that read “Stop the Mandate” and messages about freedom and choice. Dozens of people were in medical scrubs.
Multiple motorists honked in support and waved to demonstrators as they drove by. At one point, a Dallas Fire-Rescue truck blew its horns, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Shane Lall and his partner, Blake Randolph, attended in Baylor Scott & White scrubs.
Lall, who said he has a medical condition that prevents him from getting the shot, said he thinks more research is needed on the long-term effects of the vaccine.
“Basically, we stand for body autonomy,” he said. “I’m for everyone being able to make a decision when it comes to their body and what they want to put in it.”
Randolph said that medical workers have been overworked throughout the pandemic and that requiring vaccinations will add even more stress.
“In the long run, I think who it’s really going to affect is the patients,” Randolph said. “Every time somebody quits or is let go because they can’t get a vaccine, our workforce diminishes even more. We’re already overworked as it is, and are understaffed every single day.”
The recent mandates have come in the wake of what health officials in Dallas County have called a “frightening trajectory” of cases due to spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus. The variant has become the main strain circulating in the U.S., experts say, and most people who become hospitalized with it are unvaccinated.
Experts and local officials have been urging the unvaccinated to get the shots. In Texas, just over 53% of people over age 12 are fully vaccinated.
State Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, who during the legislative session filed a bill that would have barred government and state agencies from setting vaccine mandates, also attended Saturday.
“I think it’s a matter of individual liberty and personal freedom,” said Hall, whose bill died in committee and who said he has not been vaccinated. “Individual liberty trumps business rights. So I think it’s up to the individual to make that decision.”
Asked Friday for comment about the protest, Gov. Greg Abbott’s press secretary, Renae Eze, released this statement:
“Governor Abbott has been clear that we must rely on personal responsibility, not government mandates. Every Texan has a right to choose for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, or get vaccinated.
“Vaccines are the most effective defense against contracting COVID and becoming seriously ill, and we continue to urge all eligible Texans to get the vaccine,” the statement read. “The COVID vaccine will always remain voluntary and never forced in Texas.”
Staff writer Michael Williams contributed to this report.