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State educators, healthcare workers opposing vaccine mandate speak at legislative hearing

The hearing is being hosted by conservative caucus members of the general assembly following both state and federal mandates for some workers to get vaccinated.

HARTFORD, Conn. — State educators and healthcare workers who are opposed to a vaccine mandate are speaking out at a legislative hearing Wednesday.

The hearing began at noon and it is expected to be full of teachers and healthcare workers who argue they are negatively impacted by vaccine mandates put in place by their employers. 

The hearing is hosted by Conservative Caucus members of the General Assembly following both state and federal mandates for some workers to get vaccinated.

Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) released a statement in response to the hearing:

"Today we saw the impact dangerous disinformation is having on the Republican party. We all must ignore the lies around COVID, trust the science, and speak only to the facts. The COVID vaccine is safe, effective, and will save lives. People are needlessly dying for failing to act responsibly. Get vaccinated."

On the state level, there is a mandate requiring several groups to get their shots including all state employees at hospitals and long term care facilities, K-12 teachers, staff and early childhood staff.

They have to get at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27.

Last month, dozens of healthcare workers gathered outside the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) headquarters in Wallingford to voice their opposition to vaccine mandates. 

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One nurse said she left Yale New Haven Hospital recently because she saw this mandate coming. So, she works for private practice.

"And at my place of employment right now we do not mandate the shot," said Jenna Corso. "It is not mandated as we (her employer) don’t believe anything should be mandated that hasn’t been out of the market for a minimum of three to five years."

Paul Kidwell, the president of CHA, defended the mandate.

"We did so understanding that the vaccine is safe and effective, and it is the most important way that we’re going to both stop the spread of COVID and protect our patients and colleagues in our hospitals," said Kidwell.

The hearing comes as a new federal mandate is taking effect that requires all companies with more than 100 workers to mandate a vaccine or have their employees tested on a weekly basis.  

RELATED: COVID has killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu

Speaking at the White House two weeks ago, President Joe Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us," he said, all but biting off his words. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come.

On the other hand, there were strong words of praise for Biden's efforts to get the nation vaccinated from the American Medical Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable — though no direct mention of his mandate for private companies.

RELATED: US panel backs COVID-19 boosters only for elderly, high-risk

The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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