They came with their kids, their camping chairs and protest signs.  By the hundreds.  Outside St. Luke’s in Twin Falls.  They’re not happy.  Many work at the hospital.  Others came in support of neighbors.  Workers at the state’s three largest healthcare providers have been told to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or forfeit their jobs by September First.

These demonstrations are going on across the state.  On Monday in Meridian a crowd estimated in the thousands looked a lot like the crowd here.  Like families at a picnic but also with a cause.

A majority of healthcare workers are believed to have already received the shot, however.  A large contingent have refused because they point out the vaccine is still young and didn’t get rigorous testing.  The inoculation was fast tracked by the Trump Administration as the so-called pandemic was at its height.

There are other concerns if up to one third of hospital workers continue to refuse.  Who’ll replace them?  One told 96.1 FM and Newsradio 1310 KLIX on Tuesday the hospitals would be forced to compete out-of-state, where healthcare workers generally are better paid.  Additionally, Idaho’s housing shortage could make it very difficult to bring in workers from Utah, Oregon and Washington.

Most of our local state legislative delegation has been silent on the matter.  There is a vocal legislative minority elsewhere.  They’re asking colleagues to return for a special session.  They would like to ban all vaccine mandates.  It’s a contest between employer rights and individual liberty.

I’m told there are negotiations ongoing behind the scenes between legislators and hospital administrators to find another solution.

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