Health care workers protest vaccine mandate

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ROSWELL, N.M. — State Rep. Greg Nibert and several other lawmakers gathered in Roswell Tuesday morning to voice concerns over the statewide mandate that all health care workers have to get vaccinated. They said the mandate is forcing the vaccine on those who don’t want it.

"I think a personal decision is better than a statewide mandate," state Sen. David Gallegos said.

Gallegos was among others who signed a letter to the governor asking for southeastern New Mexico to be exempt from the health care vaccination mandate.

Some local nurses said there are still concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, even after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine.

"When we’re going to lose all of our nurses and then all of a sudden one of our three vaccines gets FDA approved so we don’t lose nurses — nurses are still not going to get it regardless if it’s FDA approved," said Krissy Licht, a Carlsbad nurse. "We are not going to do that."

Licht was one of the first people in the state to get vaccinated, but it’s something she regrets now.

"Probably would not have gotten it," Licht said. "I had already gotten COVID, was one of the first people in New Mexico to get COVID, and I got it and I was fine. Then I got vaccinated, that’s when I got really sick."

The protesters said mandating the vaccine will create a shortage of staff in rural hospitals. They worry the understaffed hospitals will have to shut their doors.

The governor’s office said the shortage won’t be from those who won’t get vaccinated. The bigger issue is fighting burnout as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in New Mexico again.

Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor’s press secretary, shared the following statement:

"Any hospital workers who claim to object to the vaccine need not resign – there are, within the state’s public health order, three straightforward and simple means by which an individual may document their objection and thus not be required to be vaccinated."

There are medical, religious and disability exemptions for the vaccine.