Dozens of residents and citizen groups gathered outside Spartanburg Medical Center on Friday afternoon to protest vaccination warrants and support letting doctors choose how to treat their COVID-19 patients.
Motorists drove past protesters on Wood Street, many honking their horns in support.
The “Medical Freedom Walk-Out” was promoted on social media and sponsored by the Spartanburg Christian Action Network, the Spartanburg Medical Freedom Committee, and Spartanburg Political Watch.
Cheryl Tillotson of the Spartanburg Christian Action Network said she worked for 30 years at the hospital pharmacy before retiring there in 2010.
She said doctors couldn’t treat patients with drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
So far, only one antiviral drug, remdesivir, has been approved to treat COVID-19. But it is given intravenously to patients sick enough to be hospitalized and is not intended for early and widespread use, USA Today reported.
Health officials have cautioned against using ivermectin for purposes not approved as a drug to prevent or treat COVID-19. Ivermectin is not an antiviral drug, but it is among the drugs suggested during the pandemic to help treat COVID-19.
Likewise, some have touted hydroxychloroquine, an approved drug for malaria, as a way to treat patients with COVID-19. But the Food and Drug Administration said it had not reviewed the data to support the drug’s use to prevent COVID-19, although initial research is ongoing, USA Today reported.
“I believe in medical freedom,” Tillotson said. “Spartanburg Regional cuts drugs.”
The Biden administration announced on September 10 that it is requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as federal employees and those who work for companies with more than 100 employees.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said workers at health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding must also be vaccinated.
The Spartanburg Regional Health System said doctors had received pharmaceutical guidelines, which are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health protocols for treating COVID-19.
Following:Spartanburg and Upstate Regional Hospitals Plan to Meet Immunization Requirements
Opposition to the vaccine
All three coronavirus vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States are safe and effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19, according to public health officials and peer-reviewed studies, USA Today reported . As more Americans have received the vaccines, new cases of COVID-19 have declined.
In August, the FDA gave full approval; Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Jennifer Callaway, director of nursing at the Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg, said she was concerned about losing her job and what would happen if a warrant was put in place.
“At this point, for those of us who aren’t vaccinated, we’re testing twice a week,” Callaway said. “We also wear a face shield in addition to the face mask. People who have been vaccinated are only required to wear a mask, so that really sets us apart and targets us in a certain way.”
“Defend the employees”
Dr Robert Jackson, a family physician who recently testified before the Senate SC Medical Affairs Subcommittee discussing COVID-19 treatment options, also attended the rally.
“We are here today for two reasons,” Jackson said. “Number one because these people are supporting the employees here who don’t want a mandatory vaccine. We are here to defend the employees. The hospital has posted on its website that it is considering making the vaccine mandatory.
“Second thing, we defend the doctor-patient relationship. There are doctors here who would be happy to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, but they are afraid to do so because the hospital protocol does not allow it. , insurance companies, large pharma should not interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. “
CDC research shows vaccine immunity to COVID-19 may wane over time as the highly contagious delta variant rises nationwide, USA Today recently reported. CDC officials say the outbreak is mainly due to those not taking the vaccine.
Tillotson said the protest was unrelated to a rally for medical freedom at Prisma Hospital in Greenville in August.
Editor-in-Chief Bob Montgomery contributed to this story
Ashley Dill is from Spartanburg and has been on the staff of the Herald-Journal for 14 years. She covers community news and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ashleydill_shj.