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A Catholic health care system based in St. Louis announced it is requiring all employees to be vaccinated or face termination. Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb fields reactions from its employees.
SSM employee for 16 years: "I'm so disappointed in SSM. I chose this hospital because it was a Catholic institution."
The 23-hospital health care system, SSM Health, employs nearly 40,000 people in four states. The health care giant wants every single one of them to be vaccinated by Sept. 30.
SSM employee for 15 years: "I don't want to take the vaccine because I don't want to take an experimental drug."
It's a reversal of an earlier policy decision allowing employees to wait to be vaccinated until the experimental gene therapy had been FDA-approved.
SSM's Shephali Wulff: "If we don't get vaccinated, I'm not really sure how we can expect those around us in the community to trust these vaccines."
SSM employees are saying they shouldn't be forced to take the so-called vaccine.
SSM employee for 13 years: "I'm just not on board with the forcing of it. You know it's recommended — I understand recommending that people get it — but forcing it as a condition of employment, it's just not right."
SSM employee for 25 years: "They are just trusting, I guess that's the word, they're trusting that this is OK like everything else — or other vaccines."
Several employees have had the virus and say they are protected with naturally occurring antibodies.
SSM employee for 15 years: "You know if I have antibodies — I had COVID back in December — and if I have antibodies I don't know why I would need to be vaccinated."
But SSM is requiring that everyone take the jab regardless.
SSM's Shephali Wulff: "We know that the immunity [from a shot] is more reliable. We know that it's probably more durable than that of natural infection, and we know that it protects against variants, which, we don't know that to be true for natural infection."
The sudden policy reversal by Catholic SSM leaves employees feeling betrayed.
Employee: "The whole thing — this working for a Catholic organization — is caring for people, you know what I mean? And when you say to your employees, like, well, you know, 'you don't do this you're out of here,' isn't a very caring or Christian way of doing things."
Even though Pope Francis has given the vaccine his personal seal of approval, one Catholic nurse still feels that taking the vaccine isn't right.
The employees who spoke with Church Militant all had at least a decade of continuous employment with SSM. They never thought a Catholic hospital would force them to take a potentially dangerous experimental drug or have their livelihoods taken away.
Of the employees who spoke with Church Militant, none of them are certain they will take the vaccine, even when it has FDA approval.