MONTE VISTA — A Freedom Rally was held in the Fassett Building Parking Lot on Sunday, Sept. 12. The event was organized following an emergency meeting back on Aug. 17, when Gov. Jared Polis requested that an immediate vaccine mandate be put into place by the State Board of Health, requiring Colorado health care workers in licensed facilities across the state must be vaccinated.
The vaccine mandate pertains to contract workers who interact with patients and clients in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living homes, clinics, hospices and other health care facilities, that are regulated by the state Board of Health.
Although the provisional ruling does not pertain to individual practitioners, doctor offices, or urgent care facilities, many concerned citizens along with health care workers are speaking out against the ruling, after a 6-1 vote put the mandate into place. It also requires that health care facilities only hire vaccinated workers after Oct. 31.
Carol Riggenbach, executive director of The Bridge in Alamosa, an assisted living facility spoke at the rally.
“We have a right to make our own choices regarding the Vaccine and being vaccinated,” Riggenbach said.
Riggenbach was concerned about her facility and how this rule was going to affect the health care workers who work with her elderly clients.
“I urge everyone to stand against this ruling, there are worker bees like us and there are places that need health care workers, there are places that need us to stay working, something has got to give,” Riggenbach said. “We have got to take a stand against this and never back up.”
Riggenbach said a call was scheduled in the coming week with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on the mandate. Riggenbach stated that she would be in on the call, and she wanted to see what the CDPHE had to say about the mandate.
Monte Vista Mayor Dale Becker also spoke at the rally.
“The mandate is wrong,” Becker said. “You can't tell people that they have to do something like this.
Becker pointed to one of the standing flags in the parking lot to make his next point.
“This flag here gives us that choice,” he said. “We as people have a choice, because of this free country, and I firmly believe that. We have to stand strong, we have to believe in ourselves, and we have to believe in this country, even though it's really questionable right now.”
Colorado Sen. Cleave Simpson (R-District 35) was also at the rally.
“This is terrible public policy, absolutely terrible public policy,” Simpson said. “I am not an anti-vaxxer. I did take the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the middle of the summer because it was the right thing for me to do, but to force this upon people is again terrible public policy. It really highlights that our government, my government has failed me.”
Many people and local health care workers attended the rally. The rally concluded with people standing near the road with large signs that stated, “Not Anti Vax, Just Anti-Mandate,” “This is Oppression,” “No Mask, No Mandate in the SLV,” “Freedom of Choice,” and other home-made signs against the mandate.