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Some IU Health Staffers Reject COVID-19 Vaccine Despite Requirement

(George Hale, WFIU/WTIU News)

IU Health is telling its employees they must get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September if they want to keep their jobs. Some workers aren’t happy about that.

Several hundred people attended a rally Saturday outside an IU Health building in Indianapolis. The crowd included a mix of healthcare providers, IU Health support staff and likeminded individuals. What they had in common was opposition to the Indiana health system’s plans to require vaccinations by Sept. 1.

Derek Sauls says he works in maintenance at Riley Children’s Hospital. He’s opposed to the requirement in part because he doesn’t interact with patients. But he also said speakers at the rally convinced him of risks they believe are connected to the vaccine.

“And I’m not just some Republican kook. I’m not just some religious conservative right-winger. I have severe concerns about my health,” Sauls said. 

IU Health officials say vaccinating their employees is a safe and effective way to protect patients and reduce the spread of COVID-19. They also say employees can file for medical and religious exemptions to the vaccine requirement.

The Centers for Disease Control emphasizes that millions of people in the U.S. have received vaccines without incident. Health officials also say the risks of COVID-19 far outweigh potential side effects or complications from the vaccine.

Still, according to polls, about a quarter of Americans say they won’t get vaccinated.

READ MORE: Hundreds Protest IU’s COVID-19 Vaccine Policy

Last week in Bloomington, protesters rallied outside an Indiana University trustee meeting calling for an end to a similar requirement. IU is requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students and staff but stopped short of requiring verification.

Indiana University and IU Health are separate entities. The latter is a nonprofit healthcare provider and one of the state’s larger employers.

The Indiana Department of Health estimates that 13,324 Hoosiers have died from the virus. The department announced 30 new deaths over the weekend and 336 new cases.