KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville certified nurse’s assistant says she’s prepared for any outcome after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine which could be a requirement of her employment in the near future.
Shannon Starker says this all started when she received an email from the CEO of Cherokee Health where she works. The CEO was announcing that there would be a bonus — “Hero Pay” — for all those who worked during the pandemic last year, but the note at the end of the email was what troubled Starker. It said those who remain unvaccinated could be exempt from any future bonuses.
“I wrote the CEO back and I said I’m trying to understand what you’re saying here. Us working through the pandemic, are we not eligible? He said this time you are, but for the future, you won’t be. And he says it’s best that you get vaccinated,” Starker said.
Starker says because of her religious beliefs, she has not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and she has no plans of getting it. This, despite CDC recommendations and Pfizer’s vaccine being FDA approved.
“I believe in Jesus Christ, my body my temple. He’s my healer,” Starker said.
Her choice could pose a threat to her job. In the emails from the CEO of Cherokee Health, he says the vaccines are in the best interest of not just the employees but the patients as well.
In the email, which Starker shared with WATE, the CEO wrote “To expose our patients to unvaccinated staff members is unacceptable. That is why you can expect vaccination to become a requirement of employment soon.” He adds, “We expect you do to a job description that is given to you. We now require you to be vaccinated.”
Starker is standing firm in her belief, saying she’s ready for whatever consequences come next. “I’m prepared. But my faith is in the lord and he will take care of me.”
The CDC recommends the COVID vaccine, saying that vaccines are effective at protecting you from COVID-19, especially severe illness and death. They also reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
Cherokee Health announced on Tuesday, October 5, that it will enforce the federal vaccine mandate when it goes into effect in October 2021. This mandate requires the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.