Protesters gather in downtown Rochester to demand medical freedom from Mayo Clinic’s vaccine mandate

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 7:57 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Between chanting, honking, and marching; protesters outside of Mayo Clinic Monday afternoon, made their message clear.

“I am just so ashamed of Mayo for doing this,” One protester, who also happens to work remotely for the hospital and received religious exemption for the vaccine said.

The hospital’s Jan. 3 deadline for its employees to get vaccinated or terminated prompted dozens to speak out.

“I used to work here. As of today, I no longer work here. And I worked through the furloughs and all of that. Thanks a lot for a smack in the face,” one woman said, joining in on the march around the hospital following her last day on the job.

Others in the group were still employees with the hospital, who received exemption, but standing in support of medical freedom.

“As a nurse, my medical exemption was denied my first round. And my appeal was approved. So, I was very close to being in those shoes today,” Kari Wendt said. “...Medical freedom. Your choice.”

People who weren’t associated with pandemic front line workers, were also a part of the Peace Plaza group. Standing in solidarity and support of those out of a job Monday.

Protesters holding medical freedom posters in downtown Rochester Monday.
Protesters holding medical freedom posters in downtown Rochester Monday.(KTTC)

“Support health care workers who are being fired illegally and unconstitutionally. I’m not a health care work,” veteran Pat Smith said. “I’m a veteran. But what’s happening to health care workers, a lot of first responders and military, is unconstitutional.”

Smith isn’t the only one pushing for others medical freedoms.

“You want me to get a vaccination that I fully don’t believe in, regardless of my reasons. Those reasons, those are reasons between me and my physician,” another protester said. “How dare my employer stick their nose in my medical business.”

Still, protesters received push back. Like one woman, who was in Rochester as a patient to Mayo Clinic.

“I’m from rural Montana, and this is just disgusting,” she said.

Regardless, protesters pressed on, with one goal in mind.

“Raise attention. Make people think. It’s a small step towards educations. They have been reeducated by the COVID fear that’s gone one so long. It takes citizens who are willing to speak. And join a peaceful non violent demonstration. We just need more boots on the ground and I think that’s gradually coming,” Smith said.

Mayo Clinic tells KTTC that “The majority of medical and religious exemptions requests were approved.” Some people at the protest say Mayo did not give a straight answer regarding how religious or medical exemptions were determined. The hospital says 99 percent of its staff is vaccinated.

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