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Hundreds protest Sanford and Avera employee vaccine mandates

Jordyn Henderson
Protesters demonstrate Tuesday against employee COVID-19 vaccine mandates by Sioux Falls-based health systems Sanford and Avera.

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday in Sioux Falls to protest vaccine mandates imposed by two major health systems.

The mandates by Sanford and Avera require employees to get inoculated against COVID-19, with exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

The Medical Freedom Rally and March started at Menlo Park and ended at the Sanford Health campus.

South Dakota state Rep. Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, participated. He says the mandates violate employees’ rights.

“When Americans are faced with authoritarian dictates, what do we do? Well, we rise up, we do not comply and we resist.”

Hansen is proposing a bill to ban vaccine mandates.

“It gives you the right to make that decision for yourself, it defeats the corporate mandates, it defeats the government mandates and it just makes sure that if you want to take the vaccine you are free to do so and if you don’t you are also free to do so.”

The protesters marched around Sanford’s campus and formed a line on the sidewalk. Some people passing by honked their car horns and cheered. Hansen says the protesters value personal liberty.

“When it comes to injecting substances into your own body these people just want the freedom to decide for themselves.”

Dr. Joshua Crabtree, Sanford senior vice president of clinical operations, told host Lori Walsh of SDPB's In the Moment on Tuesday that vaccinations are the best way to protect public health.

“The more people we get vaccinated, wearing masks, physical distancing when appropriate, the more we can minimize that surge and we know that if we can also minimize that surge, we can also minimize the loss of life.”

Crabtree says 90 percent of the COVID patients hospitalized at Sanford are not vaccinated.

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Jordyn is a videographer with SDPB.
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