More than 250 people gathered Sunday afternoon outside Genesis Medical Center – West Campus, Davenport, to protest the Genesis vaccination mandate for health-care workers.

The Quad Cities Medical Freedom Protest, from 2-4 p.m., included health-care workers and other supporters who gathered in the area of Marquette Street and Central Park Avenue. Many carried signs such as “Stop the mandate!” and “Faith over fear – united we stand!”

More than 250 people gather Sunday to protest the Genesis health-care workers vaccination mandate. Photos by Karla Sosa.

While many passing cars honked in support of the protestors, a woman who identified herself as “Nurse Tana” says she and her fellow nurses are using social media to spread the word about more rallies like this.

“We’ve got a lot of wonderful support from the community. We’ve been doing rallies in Peoria, Galesburg, Moline,”she said.

Tana has worked in health care for 27 years. She says this is the first time any of her supervisors ever issued a mandate.

“A bunch of us nurses realized that a lot of hospitals are mandating it,” she said. “Doesn’t really matter what you’re going to mandate, whether it’s a flu shot and experimental vaccine or eating broccoli on Tuesday, it’s our right to choose for ourselves.”

Roger Mall heard about the rally through social media and was surprised by the turnout.

“What’s even more impressive is the amount of support from passers-by the car traffic as they go by,” he said. “I’ve never seen that kind of support, honks, waves, thumbs up, that sort of thing.”

Nurse Phlecia Ford brought her three kids to the rally.

“I just want my kids to always go with their gut feeling and always follow what they believe in,” she said. “Because if it’s not this, it’s something else. And this may seem minor now but it can be an even bigger situation and it’s actually kinda scary for them.”

“I work in health care and they’re trying to force it so it’s a big issue for me so we’re going to keep going until a change happens,” she said.  

Tana hopes their voices are loud enough to change minds and drop the vaccine mandate for health-care workers. She summed it up:

“It’s a movement that’s going around the United States and we plan to keep it going until we get the government to listen to us.”

Genesis responids

Kurt Andersen, M.D., senior vice president of physician operations and chief medical Officer, Genesis Health System, responded later Sunday with a statement:  

“Our top priority and mission at Genesis Health System is the health and safety of our patients, their families, our physicians, and our staff as we compassionately care for our communities,” he said.

“COVID-19 vaccinations reduce overall hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and death. The illness is usually less severe for those who have been vaccinated. For optimal safety of Genesis patients, it is the right time and the right decision to require vaccination for our employees and staff in the interest of patients, visitors and all staff who interact with patients,” Andersen said.

“Our employees, medical staff, volunteers and contracted employees have been asked to lead by example and be vaccinated themselves,” Andersen said. “These groups understand the COVID-19 challenge and still experience that challenge daily.”

Genesis Health System announced earlier this month it will require all employees and medical staff to be fully vaccinated to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus. All employees and medical staff must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 8, or submit paperwork requesting a religious or medical exemption by the same date, a news release said.