March against NYS’s healthcare worker vaccine mandate along Rt. 281 to be held this Saturday

Krista Taylor, one who is leading the march against the vaccine mandate on Saturday. (Photo provided).

Krista Taylor, of Tully, is taking a stand not only for her well being, but for her constitutional rights and religious beliefs.

This Saturday, Taylor is leading the charge in a march against New York state’s COVID-19 healthcare worker vaccine mandate. The march will begin at 12:30 p.m. along the city of Cortland sidewalks on Route 281/West Road, in between the side streets of Crestwood Court and Madison Street.

“It’s my body, my choice,” Taylor said. “Our rights are being taken away from us.”

Taylor stressed that she is not anti-vaccine. She contracted the virus at one point during the pandemic and said “she was fine” through her recovery time.

“I believe Jesus was my vaccine during my time with COVID,” Taylor said, who added she is a Christian.

Taylor has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is a dysfunction of the nervous system. Her heart rate rises quickly from sitting to standing, and can experience her blood pressure drastically drop to the point of fainting.

“I’m not willing to put my life on the line for an experiment (of the vaccine),” Taylor said.

With autonomic nervous system dysfunction, along with allergies to certain foods and medications, Taylor is concerned about the side effects the vaccine will have on her conditions.

“It’s not right that we’re being forced to put something in our bodies,” she said, who added her employer is putting pressure on her to get the vaccine. “I’ve tried to get a medical exemption for my conditions, but my employer stands by the vaccine mandate.”

Back in August, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to mandate at least the first dose of the vaccine for all of the state’s hospital and long-term care facility workers. The deadline for the first part of Cuomo’s order, which was carried over to Gov. Kathy Hochul when she recently replaced Cuomo, was Monday.

The deadline for the state’s home care, hospice and adult-care facility employees is Oct. 7. If healthcare workers don’t meet the mandate, they could face termination of their professions. However, a medical exemption is intact, and United States district court judge David Hurd (of Utica) temporarily blocked the mandate for those with religious exemptions until Oct. 12.

The march could see close to 100 people, possibly more, Taylor said. The location of the march was chosen based on the amount of traffic Route 281/West Road gets  on a daily basis.

Taylor noted that all are welcome to the march, even ones who are vaccinated and think “the mandate is unconstitutional.”

“We have to take a stand, come together and protest for what’s right,” she said. “Hopefully people can still keep their jobs.”

Representatives of local healthcare providers Guthrie, Cayuga Health System and Family Health Network have all complied with the state’s vaccine mandate. 

“Vaccination is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death,” said Dr. Edmund Sabanegh, President and CEO of Guthrie. “By putting this requirement in place, we took an important step to ensure patient safety and protect our colleagues on the front lines of care.”

“I respect that the decision to get vaccinated is personal, but as a health system I want to recognize that we do recommend vaccination as the first line of defense against COVID-19 for most individuals,” said Dr. Martin Stallone, President and CEO of Cayuga Health. “Like all other health care facilities across the state Cayuga Health is following this mandate, and we knew when this was announced that we might lose several valued and loyal employees. It is not easy to see employees leave our organization due to this mandate, we hope that those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated will rejoin our organization when this pandemic is over or if they change their mind. We value every person and their individual decisions regarding vaccination.”