SEQUIM — Well more than 100 protesters rallied a little before noon Wednesday at the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue as health care and long-term care workers — supported by others — registered their opposition to a statewide vaccination mandate.
Amy Pearson, who organized the protest, said she wanted to draw attention to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that she and other health care employees must show proof of vaccination by Oct. 18 or lose their jobs.
Inslee on Aug. 9 issued an emergency proclamation mandating that most state executive branch employees and on-site contractors and volunteers, along with public and private health care and long-term care workers, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
“I felt (the protest) went great — a lot more people than I expected,” Pearson said.
Protesters carried various messages, some to do with the vaccine mandate and others to do with face-mask requirements.
“That’s OK; people felt they wanted to bring more topics into it,” Pearson said. “My point was, we want medical autonomy over what goes into our bodies, (to have) freedom to make that decision without losing (our) jobs.
“We shouldn’t be forced to make a decision under oppression. This is all about freedom of choice.”
A group of between 20 and 30 people also carried signs protesting the state mandate at the corner of First and Race streets in Port Angeles on Wednesday.
Pearson, who works in a dental clinic, said she’s not anti-vaccination, but that she and others shouldn’t be forced to get vaccinated to keep their jobs.
Jason Parkinson, a Sequim resident, said he and his family were infected with COVID-19 about two months ago. He too expressed frustration with the vaccination mandate.
“It’s a violation of our rights. There’s a pattern here. First something is suggested, then recommended, then mandated.”
Parkinson, who is partially paralysed from the neck down, said he was put in intensive care (ICU) after contracting pneumonia two years ago, and that experience was worse than his COVID sickness.
“I’m grateful I got COVID; it taught me about the fear-mongering going on,” he said.
“I think people need to do more research.”
A second rally was planned for later Wednesday at about 5 p.m. to protest the mask mandate for Washington state students; Inslee on Wednesday ordered a statewide mask mandate for those students as well as a vaccine requirement for all public, private and charter school employees for the 2020-2021 academic year.