Wellstar Healthcare employees protest vaccine mandate

Some healthcare workers at Wellstar Spalding protested outside the facility Wednesday over the health systems decision to require its workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

At noon on 8th Street in Griffin, Wellstar Spalding healthcare workers took to the sidewalk in front of the hospital, to protest their company’s vaccine mandate announced last week. All employees are to get the shot by October 1. These workers said Wellstar is threatening to fire them if they don’t.

FOX 5 was told of similar protests at other healthcare facilities in Metro Atlanta.

Some of those who lined Eighth Street in Griffin were family members of Wellstar Spalding workers.

Wellstar vaccine protest

Workers lined the streets outside Wellstar Spalding in protest of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Their message is that vaccination should be a choice and not a requirement.

Wellstar Health System sent a statement to FOX 5.  The first paragraph says the company respects the rights of their employees to voice their concerns peacefully. Wellstar said it’s committed to providing a safe forum to hear and address their concerns.

The statement went on to say: "The best protection we currently have against the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic is vaccination, especially as we experience a concerning and rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations from the COVID-19 Delta variant."

SKY FOX Drone Wellstar protest

Many of the protestors are asking for Gov. Brain Kemp to step in to stop employers from mandating vaccinations in Georgia.

Georgia’s case count continues to rise, with the seven-day rolling average climbing above 5,600 on Wednesday, the worst since Feb. 1. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals is also rising rapidly, exceeding 3,800 on Wednesday even as many hospital executives warn they don’t have enough beds and staff to care for surging patients loads.

The seven-day average for the share of positive molecular tests hit 15.7% on Wednesday, far above the 5% average that experts say means there is enough testing to detect most virus cases. The number of deaths is also rising again, getting close to 22,000 statewide since the pandemic began.

Vaccinations in Georgia this week surpassed 9 million doses with 46.5% of those eligible to receive the vaccine is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number lags behind the national average of 58.8%.

The Delta variant now accounts for about 90% of new cases across the state, health officials said. The Georgia Department of Public Health on Wednesday afternoon said the number of hospitalizations has also jumped by 200 to 3,820.

WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage


Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.