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‘Jab or job’: Employees from Stennis, other federal contractors speak out against vaccine mandate

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 10:28 PM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Dozens of employees at Stennis Space Center and from the Hancock County community are taking a stand against a federal vaccine mandates.

On Tuesday, a group gathered along Highway 607 to pray for strength and guidance in regards to the executive order, which mandates that all federal employees and employees of federal contractors get the COVID-19 vaccine.

A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in...
A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in Hancock County to protest for medical freedom when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.(WLOX)

Several people who are employed at Stennis and other employers with federal contracts at the space center said they will refuse to get the shot, even if that means facing unemployment. For many, it’s not about the vaccine itself as much as it is about the right to choose.

“We believe that you shouldn’t have to choose between your job, your livelihood, and this vaccine,” said Stennis Strong: Employees For Medical Freedom organizer Nyla Trumbach.

A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in...
A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in Hancock County to protest for medical freedom when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.(WLOX)

That’s a belief that was shared by all who attended, several of whom will face unemployment in December if they remain unvaccinated.

“A lot of people are worried that they are going to lose their job and can’t support their family, and they want choice over what is injected into their body,” said Kristin Trumbach.

In addition to the freedom of choice, those against it are worried about the precedent the mandate will set.

“What is going to happen in the future if this is the precedent?” questioned Charles Thomas. “It can become a term of employment where people will have to take booster shots every year or what have you. I don’t know where this is going.”

A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in...
A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in Hancock County to protest for medical freedom when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.(WLOX)

Several people WLOX talked with say this isn’t a stand against their employers, most of whom hold federal contracts. They understand that the companies are being forced to comply due to the executive order.

“We are not against our employers,” said Ashley Harriel. “We are not against the Stennis administration or NASA administration. We understand this was put out by the federal government.”

While the prayer rally may not get the results they want, their voices are being heard.

“It makes a difference because you do feel alone. You feel helpless,” said Charles Thomas. “I am looking around just really thinking what I can do. I am powerless. The only thing I have is my voice and I want to be able to use my voice and, hopefully, it reaches someone and they realize we all answer to a higher authority.”

The group has discussed holding more events in the future but nothing has been planned at the moment.

A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in...
A few dozen employees of Stennis Space Center and other federal contractors gathered Tuesday in Hancock County to protest for medical freedom when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.(WLOX)

Employees at other companies have also spoken out against the federal vaccine mandate. Workers at shipyards like Ingalls in Jackson County have also held rallies to protest what they say is a violation of their medical freedom.

The mandate at Ingalls falls under President Biden’s sweeping vaccine order that all federal employees and contractors be fully vaccinated with no option to test out.

All employees who work for a federal employer, including companies who hold federal contracts, must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. To be considered fully vaccinated, one must have had either the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or the single shot of Johnson & Johnson, for two full weeks before the deadline.

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