LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — About 50 people gathered outside of Baptist Health Lexington Monday evening to protest the hospital's decision to require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Baptist Health is one of many Kentucky healthcare providers to require the vaccine for employees as the delta variant continues to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
"What do we want? Choice! When do we want it? Now!" Protesters chanted as cars passed along Nicholasville Road.
The choice to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should be a personal one, said protester Rachel Eastwood.
"If you're vaccinated, OK, that's your choice," Eastwood said. "I choose not to and there's many who choose not to...it's just about the freedom."
Eastwood is not a healthcare worker herself, but she came out to support those who choose to decline the shots despite the requirement of their employer, she said.
"They're in a bind," she said. "They want to be able to make their choice. They love people."
The crowd was also joined by a single counter-protester who said he was concerned about the spread of the delta variant as well as misinformation about the vaccines.
"As transmissible as this is, to have a healthcare worker not vaccinated is very dangerous," Chuck Eddy said.
As protests against vaccine requirements continue to pop up across Kentucky, the commonwealth's COVID-19 cases are surging.
On Monday, 2,100 new COVID-19 cases were reported with a positivity rate of 12.4 percent. Hospitals are adjusting to accommodate the rising number of patients.