Dayton Children’s Hospital protesters argue against vaccine mandate; hospital backs its decision

DAYTON — More than a few dozen protesters demonstrated outside of Dayton Children’s Hospital Thursday, calling on hospital leadership to change their mind on requiring the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.

>> PHOTOS: Dayton Children’s vaccine mandate protest

The issue has prompted several area protests outside of medical facilities since the three major healthcare providers in the Miami Valley announced vaccine mandates for staff members.

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“We are fine with people who want to vaccinate and wear a mask, but we don’t believe they should be taking that choice from us or take our jobs instead,” said Kyle, a technology coordinator in the Dayton Children’s Hospital pharmacy, who didn’t want to provide his last name. “Patients are going to struggle and they are going to suffer from this. I just want to see all these good workers here keep their jobs, because I know everyone out here cares about the kids.”

Dayton Children’s will be the first of the major local providers to require staff to be fully vaccinated of risk termination, setting a date of Oct. 1 for staff members to comply.

“The recent surge in COVID-19 cases within our country and community due to the extremely contagious delta variant combined with only 69% of our staff currently being vaccinated means the time to act is now,” Dayton Children’s said in a statement.

Another demonstrator said she’s not OK with the mandate, especially since she had COVID-19 before.

‘I have documented immunity. I had COVID. I survived COVID. I’ve had my antibodies tested on multiple times,” said Alison Burchett, a 9-year employee at Dayton Children’s. “The CDC itself says the vaccine itself doesn’t stop people from getting COVID.”

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Ohio’s Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff clarified Wednesday what the role of the COVID-19 vaccine is in fighting against the virus.

“Protection against severe illness and death, which the vaccines continue to offer very robustly, was in fact the original goal of these vaccines,” Vanderhoff said.

“Vaccines against respiratory viruses rarely protect against mild to moderate infections as well as they protect against severe illness, because they are much better of inducing immunity in the lungs than in the nose, where respiratory viruses first infect our bodies,” Vanderhoff said. ‘While immunity against more moderate infection may begin to way, our protection against severe illness and death is much more likely to endure.”

Vaccine mandate protests across the region have brought out hundreds of people who say they are standing up for what they believe in, some saying they will make their employer walk them out if they don’t comply with the mandates.

Lawmakers in Columbus are working to prevent mandates like those at Premier Health, Kettering Health and Dayton Children’s from happening with House Bill 248.

The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), would prohibit mandatory vaccinations and outlaw disclosure of a person’s vaccination status to a third party.

It would also make it illegal for anyone, including a person’s employer, to discriminate against them if they have not received the coronavirus vaccine or any other vaccine.

“I hope that HB 248 will get some support and that these mandates will be repealed,” Burchett said. “We are already short staffed. We’re already in trouble. We’re already working extra hours. I’m not sure they can afford to lose as many of us that are willing to stand by this.”

Following a protest that brought hundreds to the Kettering Health headquarters in Miamisburg last week, the healthcare provider modified its vaccine mandate policy.

Kettering Health moved its deadline to be fully vaccinated back to Dec. 1 from its original October date. Kettering Health also modified policy to allow for positive antibody tests to serve as a medical exemption for getting the shot.

“We will accept proof of current immunity in the form of a positive COVID-19 IgG Antibody test as a medical exemption to vaccination,” a memo sent Friday to Kettering Health employees said. “A positive antibody test must be completed and submitted no less than every three months. When the antibody test becomes negative, a vaccine series must be completed.”

The move by Kettering put its policy in line with Premier Health’s, which also requires its workers to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 1 and accepts positive antibodies as a medical exemption for having to get the shot.

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