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New Mexico hospital workers protest vaccine mandates

Nurse Katrina Philpot protests against COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates near the state Capitol on Friday in Santa Fe. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a health order this week obligating hospital workers to get COVID-19 vaccines. State workers are also ordered to get vaccinated. Philpot says her Rio Rancho hospital will fire her if she doesn’t get her shots. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press)

SANTA FE – About 150 people protested in front of the New Mexico state capitol Friday, demanding an end to vaccine mandates for health care workers.

Many protesters identified themselves as hospital workers – nurses, nursing assistants and clerical workers. Other attendees included correctional officers, retirees and children of health care workers.

A state mandate requires nurses and other workers in high-risk environments to get vaccinated, and some hospitals have their own mandates.

“I believe the vaccine is harmful,” said practical nurse Katrina Philpot, picketing along the road outside the capitol complex with a sign that read “Healthcare workers deserve rights.”

Philpot said the hospital she works at in Rio Rancho is requiring her to be vaccinated by Aug. 27 or be fired. She fears she won’t qualify for medical and religious exemptions to the mandate.

State employees, including prison guards, are required to get vaccines or submit to weekly testing. At least one prison guard has sued the state over the mandate.

Supportive drivers honked as they passed, while those who disapproved yelled at the group.