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Pittsburg residents protest government mandates

Pittsburg residents, including police officers, healthcare workers, city council candidates, and veterans, protested government and hospital mask mandates near a busy intersection on Centennial just outside Via Christi Hospital.

The protest, organized by nurse Morgan Campbell, took place on Oct. 2 in the early afternoon on the curbside just outside of Via Christi Hospital. Attendees of the protest included healthcare workers, employees and students at Pittsburg State University, police officers, veterans, both anti-government and anti-vaccine protesters, and religious citizens.

The protest’s origin with Campbell came from her forming a Facebook group for her fellow nurses.

“It (the Facebook group) started out small and us that are like-minded and have the same views and beliefs on this issue can talk to teach and other and bounce ideas off each other,” Campbell said. “It was mainly just so you know that you are not alone.”

Campbell said that interest in the Facebook group for people who view government and business mandates negatively grew quickly.

“It became bigger and bigger, because all of us kind of know someone who feels the same way,” she said. “We now have a large group just in the hospital…”

The protest began with a Facebook post from one of Campbell’s colleagues, asking for people to come stand with her on the curbside with signage protesting the hospital’s mandate on vaccination for employees.

“She posted asking, ‘Does someone just want to hold my hand so I’m not alone?’ and we went for it,” Campbell said. “We just went and attacked it.”

Campbell also said that she and other protesters on the site are not “ant-vaxxers,” just anti-mandate.

“We are out here to protest against the mandate,” Campbell said. “I believe it is unethical, and it is not right.., This isn’t about vaccines, it’s about the mandate…”

Despite Campbell’s claim, there were some at the protest who held some negative views on vaccines such as Cindi Lederenz, an employee of Sodexo.

“Most of the vaccines that were created for young children and people my age were strung together and not properly tested,” she said. “A lot of people are a little concerned, because some people have pretty devastating reactions…”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective, and the speed at which they were developed is due to the disease’s similarity to other coronaviruses, namely SARS, which had a significant outbreak in 2002.

Allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine rarely occur at a rate of one event per one million administrations. According to the CDC, 396 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and no long-term side effects have been accurately correlated to receiving the vaccine.

Lederenz also said that she believes that the COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied enough.

“We’re concerned about the amount of thought and research that went into this,” she said. “We’re for choice.”

Accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines can be found online at the CDC (cdc.gov), the FDA (fda.gov), or at local and state-level health organizations such as the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (kdheks.gov), or Crawford County Health Department (crawfordcountykansas.org).

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