Holding posters and waving to receptive drivers as they honked, upward of 100 people took part in a protest against Banner’s vaccine mandate Monday on the Beeline Highway.

Banner Health, Arizona’s largest health provider, is requiring all employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Banner notified staff of the policy change July 20, explaining in a press release that “to protect patients, team members and the community, today Banner Health notified its employees that being vaccinated for COVID-19 will be a condition of employment. With limited exceptions, all team members have until November 1 to be fully vaccinated.”

Hoyt Skabelund, Banner Payson Medical Center CEO, said the vaccine is “the single most effective way” to provide a safe environment for staff and patients during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and extremely effective, and we encourage all our team members and the community to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he wrote. “Banner’s vaccination requirement for its employees is just one more way we are demonstrating our commitment to safety.”

Protesters disagreed, saying there is still too much unknown about the vaccines to require staff to take them.

Resident Wendy Larchick said she protested the mandate because anytime an employer or the government take away an individual’s rights, it can become a domino effect.

“Fear of COVID is so pervasive right now that it seems like people will do anything the latest ‘expert’ recommends, even if it is in direct conflict with the last ‘expert’s guidance,’ she wrote. “For me, the slippery slope of allowing a third party to mandate that a person has to be injected with what is an experimental drug at this point (there is no FDA approval or sufficient studies done) or lose their rights is much scarier. Plus, it’s always been known that vaccinations protect the person vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated, you are only risking your own health — why all of a sudden is it different now?”

Chuck Davis, who photographed the event, said it was a peaceful protest.

“Today people of these United States exercised their First Amendment right to free speech, to peaceable assembly and petition the Government for redress of grievances,” he wrote.

Shirley Dye said several concerned citizens and employees organized the event.

“When (many from churches, employees, and regular citizens) marched down and lined the Beeline, we had a great response with honks and waves; only one middle finger was seen,” she said.

Hoyt said they would consider vaccine exemptions in accordance with federal and state laws.

“As I hear it, there are many who will quit rather than take the vaccine and leave Payson hospital in dire straits as it is already very difficult to find employees, especially doctors and nurses, due to the lack of affordable housing already,” Dye said.

Banner Health, in a press release, said it was implementing this requirement for several reasons, including the rise of the Delta variant, the pending lift of the Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, the need to protect its patients and workforce, and to prepare for the flu season. In addition, national data shows that 97% of hospitalizations and 99% of COVID-19 deaths are in the unvaccinated.

Banner Health employs roughly 52,000.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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(16) comments

Jeff Robbins

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The concern of the government for the health, peace, morality, and safety of its citizens. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution cites promotion of the general welfare as a primary reason for the creation of the Constitution

What exactly is "the common good," ability to discern and act on what’s in our common interest depends on believing that we, as Americans, all have something in common.

The problem encountered by proponents of the common good is what is sometimes called the "freerider problem." The benefits that a common good provides are, as we noted, available to everyone, including those who choose not to do their part to maintain the common good. Individuals can become "free riders" by taking the benefits the common good provides while refusing to do their part to support the common good. An adequate water supply, for example, is a common good from which all people benefit. But to maintain an adequate supply of water during a drought, people must conserve water, which entails sacrifices. Some individuals may be reluctant to do their share, however, since they know that so long as enough other people conserve, they can enjoy the benefits without reducing their own consumption. If enough people become free riders in this way, the common good which depends on their support will be destroyed. Many observers believe that this is exactly what has happened to many of our common goods, such as the environment or education, and health where the reluctance of all persons to support efforts to maintain the health of these systems has led to their virtual collapse.

Unwilling to make the sacrifice a simple shot for the common good is selfish and unconstitutional.

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Don Evans

They let you post. So what's the diff....

Susan Frank

"If you are unvaccinated, you are only risking your own health"... no, no, and no. If you are unvaccinated, unless you test daily for the virus, you risk the health of those around you every day. If you can't be 100% sure you don't carry the virus, then you can't be 100% sure you aren't spreading it to someone who might truly suffer, or worse. Even the vaccinated can still carry enough viral lode to spread the virus and should be masking in public.

Health care workers are supposed to care about the health and well being of patients. And people who say they care about their community but don't care about the health and well being of others whose immune systems they know zero about, might want to rethink their position.

And Wendy Larchick might want to read the definition of contagious.

Nancy Volz

Big thumbs up!

Roy Sandoval

Looks like someone is implementing "my body, my choice" in terms of eating.

Nancy Volz

If you can't say something nice...

Roy Sandoval

You're right. Sorry about that:)

Don Evans

I would like to personally thank President "where am I?" Joe Biden for allowing the mass influx of illegal aliens at our southern border. You know, the just walk in and we will transport you for free to various communities across our nation to infect. And you non citizens don't have to show proof of Covid testing or vaccination. But you USA citizens must be vaccinated, wear useless cloth masks, and show proof of a Covid vaccination that has not been tested and approved by the US FDA. Wasn't it the scientists who told us the world was flat in history? And the Presidents front man Covid scientist Dr. Fauci, hid the fact that he sent grant money to the Chinese Wuhan laboratory scientists who invented and released the Covid virus. Keep up the great job Joe.

Steve Brule

It took me less than 10 seconds on Google to prove you are wrong. Biden has ramped up deportations and prosecutions. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/immigration-border-deportations-prosecutions-deter-migration-biden-administration/

Florida is the number one hot spot because people like you won't wear a mask or get a vaccine there's no sea convoy of Mexicans coming to Florida to spread their covid.

Don Manthe

Nicely regurgitated non sequiturs......🙄

Scott Smusz

It’s your right to not get vaccinated. But don’t gaddam think you are going to get into a hospital or business that requires a mask. I’ve been vaccinated and I still wear a mask because I’m aware that there are other people in society that may be compromised health wise and I fear I might have the virus and not know it! So, it’s your turn to stay home or be unemployed. I tired of compensating for you sorry azz. And don’t dare go to the hospital!

Steve Brule

Google Joe Biden deportations the first thing you get is that Biden has ramped up deportations and prosecutions to determine illegal immigration. Kamala Harris even went to Guatemala and said "don't come here".

James Wise

As I read it, the study to which Mr. Frommelt refers has not been peer reviewed or published. The title of its abstract is: Comparison of two highly-effective mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 during periods of Alpha and Delta variant prevalence. From the abstract : “both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines strongly protect against infection and severe disease.” Separately, the CDC has said “the risk of [COVID] infection is 8x higher in the unvaccinated than the vaccinated, and the risk of hospitalization or death is 25x Ref: www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.06.21261707v1

Steve Brule

If you folks don't trust doctors then you shouldn't go to the hospital if you have covid and are dying it's just that simple.

Paul Frommelt

It is interesting to note, that just this week, a new report from the Mayo Clinic has come out showing the Pfizer mRNA modifier (it's not a vaccine) is only 42% effective against the Delta Variant. And I agree with Wendy Larchick on this one. This is a very "slippery slope" Banner has chosen to climb! I believe other protests will follow in other areas, and in other work envorinments!

Steve Brule

Thank you Mr Scientist for that information whats that you say you're not a scientist or a doctor or a virologist? Then maybe you shouldn't comment.

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