DANVILLE, Pa. — More than 100 people stood outside Geisinger Medical Center on Tuesday, protesting the health system's new vaccine requirement.
"I'm getting fired shortly because I won't take the vax, as with everybody else. This is America. I'm trying to stop it," said Joe Robb, a worker in Geisinger's food service department.
"Last year, we were heroes. Now we are scum in the wind. They don't care about us."
According to Geisinger, around 82 percent of employees are either fully or partially vaccinated or have been approved for an exemption.
Bethany Kline-Leadbeter is one of the other 18 percent. She works from home in Geisinger's quality documentation and coding department.
"It's exactly about personal choice and freedom. What we are fighting for is so that it doesn't go any further than this so that we will always have our freedom to choose what is right for ourselves," Kline-Leadbeter said.
Not everyone at the protest works for Geisinger. Brittany Gresh lives in Danville and is a traveling nurse.
"This decision doesn't just affect the employees at Geisinger. Geisinger is one of the largest health systems. Eventually, there will be a ripple-down effect, and it will affect everybody, which will include me being a front-line health care worker," said Gresh.
A spokesperson for Geisinger tells Newswatch 16 the vaccine is the best hope to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Requiring all Geisinger employees to be vaccinated fulfills our obligation to do everything we can to protect our patients, their families, and each other. And it also helps protect our friends and neighbors."
"Are you willing to lose your job? I will, unfortunately, be fired because they won't give me the liberty to choose no to this vaccination," Kline-Leadbeter added.
The deadline for Geisinger employees to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is November 1.