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'We just don't want to be forced' | Why some healthcare workers are pushing back against vaccine mandate

The California Department of Public Health says all healthcare workers need to have both doses of the vaccine before Sept. 30 or undergo weekly testing.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Health experts are calling the recent surge in coronavirus cases, driven by the Delta variant, a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That has led to a growing number of vaccine mandates, including for healthcare workers in California.

But not all of those workers are on board.

"We should have a right to choose. It is somebody's personal choice to receive a vaccine," Sacramento nurse Carly Rinaldi said.

Rinaldi said she chose to get the Pfizer vaccine months ago.

"I am not against vaccines. I was hesitant like I think many are with this vaccine," she said.

She said it's not the vaccine she's protesting against on the steps of the state capitol but rather the statewide mandate from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which says healthcare workers need both doses of the vaccine before Sept. 30 or have to undergo weekly testing.

"I am not OK with my friends and colleagues needing to make a choice or else they lose their job. I'm not comfortable with going to work with whatever reduction of workforce is not going to come to work with me after the mandate date is implemented," she said.

Earlier in August, Dr. J. Douglas Kirk, Chief Medical Officer with the UC Davis Medical Center, told ABC10 he thinks healthcare workers getting vaccinated is a matter of common sense.

"It's difficult to comprehend that those of us in this business could not understand that better than the general public," Kirk said.

"The principle of forcing a vaccine on someone goes against everything we've ever been taught as nurses," Modesto nurse Laura Estrella said.

Estrella said she just wants the same rights as her patients.

"Obviously, we've all taken our vaccines. In order to get into the nursing program, you have to have vaccines. And there's the yearly flu recommended vaccine, people take those too," she said. "We're not against those. We just don't want to be forced. That's where it crosses the line."

More than 64% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated and another 10% are partially vaccinated.

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Read more from ABC10

WATCH MORE: California Vaccine Mandate: Healthcare workers protest in Sacramento at the capitol building

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