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Almost 40 protest Covid-19 vaccine mandate at NMSU

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Almost 40 demonstrators met on the NMSU horseshoe Tuesday afternoon to protest the university-wide vaccine mandate.

“I say, my body my choice," said Jody Kincaid, who said he is a retired naturopathic doctor. "This is not about a disease. This is about political control.”

According to the university, NMSU receives $90 million annually in federal funds. Because of that reliance on federal dollars, the university must comply with the federal vaccine mandate. As of Tuesday, 94% of employees were fully vaccinated. That would put 270 at risk of losing their jobs by the Jan. 4 deadline.

“The protesters have every right to be here and express their opinions," said Ruth Johnston, the vice chancellor and chief COVID-19 officer. "It’s so important for us to have dialogue at a university, even if we don’t agree.”

A few minutes in to the protest, university leaders approached the protesters to start a conversation about the mandatory federal mandate.

"I have weighed my options," said Kass Sammons, an executive assistant at NMSU's Cooperative Extension Office. "The choice I made was not to get the vaccination."

Sammons, who is in danger of losing her job, said she was happy to comply with the weekly testing that was required for unvaccinated employees. She said she no longer feels like she has a choice.

"This is hard," Johnston admitted. "It’s a condition of employment. We’ve been asked to and need to abide by the federal mandate.”

Tuesday's demonstration comes after the University of New Mexico dis-enrolled hundreds of students who refused to get vaccinated or submit proof of an exemption.

At the beginning of the semester, NMSU announced that it would require students to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

An NMSU spokesman confirmed Tuesday that all employees and staff are required to get vaccinated by Jan. 4 or risk termination. The deadline was originally Dec. 8, but it was pushed back with the federal requirement.

Click here to watch Tuesday's virtual town hall at NMSU.

Article Topic Follows: Education

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.


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