MILWAUKEE - All of southeastern Wisconsin's largest health care systems will require their staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 come fall, a decision criticized Wednesday, Aug. 4 by dozens of advocacy groups, including some health care workers.
The Wisconsin United for Freedom (WUFF) nonprofit says it's backing a group of 4,000 health care workers across the state who argue it is their right to control what enters their bodies. Those behind the vaccine requirement decisions say it's the right thing to do for patient safety.
- Advocate Aurora: Oct. 15
- Ascension Wisconsin: Nov. 12
- Children's Wisconsin: Nov. 15
- Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin: Nov. 1
- ProHealth Care: Oct.15
- UW Health: Oct. 1
"Well, COVID is far from over," said Jim Skogsbergh, Advocate Aurora Health president & CEO.
Health officials say the decision will protect patients.
"Let this decision to mandate vaccines be another chapter in our book, one that says we have done everything we can to keep our patients, our communities and each other safe and healthy," said Skogsbergh.
Others, like "Wisconsin United for Freedom," or WUFF, say it violates their employees' rights.
"We should not be making medical decisions based on fear," said Rachel McCardle, Wisconsin United for Freedom. "We should be making medical decisions based on informed consent and not coercion."
McCardle said WUFF is receiving hundreds of messages from health care workers who fear they'll lose their job over the requirement for a vaccine that's only authorized under emergency approval.
"We believe in health choice," said McCardle. "We believe in bodily autonomy and having the right to say what is injected or not injected to a person's body."
But for UW Health's Dr. Nasia Safdar, the mandate is a professional responsibility.
"We went into health care for a reason, and that was to take care of patients," said Dr. Safdar. "This step will allow us to take better care of our patients, and it's... patients deserve that."
Vaccination rates vary across those health systems. Froedtert Health says they have nearly 66% of employees fully vaccinated. It's as high as 90% at UW Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Letter from WUFF
President Biden and Governor Evers,
Wisconsin United for Freedom, along with 73 other Wisconsin advocacy organizations, on behalf of 4,000 healthcare workers, are committed to health freedom and vaccine choice for every single man, woman, and child in the great state of Wisconsin and across the nation.
We are receiving an alarming number of private messages, emails, and phone calls from working professionals from across the entire state, including IT Professionals, Biopharmaceutical employees,
educators, private-sector employees, union members, Registered Nurses, LPNs, NPs, technicians, therapists, and a very wide range of other healthcare support workers. They are seeking help in fighting for one of their most basic freedoms: control over their own bodies. We are standing for nearly 4,000 of them, some of who are afraid to come forward for fear of retribution, so hear us clearly that we firmly oppose:
- Vaccine mandates of any kind, including but not limited to: Adult employer vaccine mandates and healthcare worker vaccine mandates Vaccine mandates in our college institutions Childhood vaccine mandates SARS-CoV2 vaccine mandates
- Adult employer vaccine mandates and healthcare worker vaccine mandates
- Vaccine mandates in our college institutions
- Childhood vaccine mandates
- SARS-CoV2 vaccine mandates
- Vaccine passports
- Policies that include segregation and discrimination based on vaccination status
- Private medical information, such as vaccine status, being exposed
Wisconsin United for Freedom has been attempting to meet with Governor Evers since May about vaccine mandates, but we have been completely brushed aside. We have left 19 voicemails in addition to 7 emails or website submissions, but, to date, our requests for a meeting have fallen on deaf ears.
We hear you loud and clear. You do not care. You do not care about our rights over our own bodies, our concerns, or our jobs. You do not care about our frontline workers, or respect their right to bodily autonomy. It is truly a tragedy that it has come to this - but we are telling you today, we will not back down from this fight.
Wisconsin United for Freedom
Healthcare Workers For Freedom (HCWFF) WI
HCWFF - Ascension
HCWFF – Aurora
HCWFF – CHW
HCWFF – Froedtert
HCWFF – MCW
HCWFF – MercyHealth
HCWFF – ProHealth
Wisconsin Advanced Practice Nurses for Freedom
Wisconsin Healthcare Employees For Medical Freedom
Recipes for Freedom
Recipes for Freedom Waukesha County
Recipes for Freedom Racine County
We The Parents Jefferson County
Jefferson County Freedom Forum
EC in the Know
Rise Up Wisconsin
We The Parents – Cambridge
Pulaski Community School District Parents Advocating
We The Parents Burlington
New Berlin District Parents for Freedom
Wisconsin Rapids Freedom Fighters
Lodi Parents for a Better Tomorrow
Freedom Fighters of Central Wisconsin
Coulee Region Freedom Fighters
Parent Up KMSD
We The Parents of New Richmond
Parent Choice in Sauk Prairie Schools
We the Parents Baraboo
River Valley for Optional Masking
We the Parents Rock County
Rock County Action
WI for Vaccine Choice
Our Kids Our Choice - Chequamegon Bay
We The Parents – Hartford
The Germantown Direction
We The Parents – Hudson
WI Women for Freedom
We the Parents Somerset
Wilmot and Randall Parents Against Masks
Moms for Liberty Kenosha County
We The Parents – Greendale
Ascension for Choice
Recipes for Freedom Outagamie County Liberators
Free in Wisconsin
Free in Dodge
Wisconsin Liberty, Freedom, Community, Rally & Action
Lions For Freedom Southeast WI
Sheboygan County for Freedoms
Barron County Patriots
Be Heard Oconomowoc
No Left Turn in Education Wisconsin
Parents for Education – Arrowhead
West De Pere Warrior Parents
Vaccine Freedom in Wisconsin
We the Parents – Elmbrook
Janesville Parents for Freedom and Action
Edgerton Parents for Mask Choice
SOS Concerned Families of OASD Children
Let Our Kids Breathe (Neenah, WI)
Parents of KASD (Kaukauna)
Recipes for Freedom Jefferson County
We the Parents of Milton
Wisconsin Educators for Medical Freedom
Unmask Our Kids Kenosha County
Badger State Resistance
Wisconsin Businesses United Together
We the Parents of River Falls
Parents of WI supporting Parents of NJSD
We the Parents St. Croix Central
Patriot Alliance Group