A Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) nursing student who will not take the COVID-19 vaccine said other people in the profession she’s pursuing are losing their jobs for similar reasons.

This, because certain nurses also won’t allow anyone to inject them with the shot, said MTSU student Avery Garfield.

“I just feel like you will see a fight for a shift in the overworked and underpaid nursing burnout that you see all over the country,” Garfield told The Tennessee Star this week.

Avery said police officers forced her from class last week because she refused the COVID-19 vaccine. She said she will continue to oppose a school policy that defies her beliefs and her legal rights.

“If there are fewer nurses then we will have a problem,” Garfield said.

“We already have a nursing shortage in this country, and if hospitals are willingly laying off good workers who just don’t want their rights to be violated then we will have some issues.”

Fortune.com reported last week that about 39 percent of U.S. hospitals have announced vaccine mandates for staff members.

“It’s not just nurses at stake with vaccine mandates. Respiratory techs, nursing assistants, food service employees, billing staff and other health care workers are already in short supply. According to the latest KFF/The Washington Post Frontline Health Care Workers Survey, released in April, at least one-third of health care workers who assist with patient care and administrative tasks have considered leaving the workforce,” according to Fortune.

“The combination of burnout and added stress of people leaving their jobs has worn down the health care workers the public often forgets about, said interventional radiology tech Joseph Brown, who works at Sutter Roseville Medical Center outside Sacramento, Calif. This has a domino effect, Brown said: More of his co-workers are going on stress and medical leave as their numbers dwindle and while hospitals run out of beds. He said nurses’ aides already doing backbreaking work are suddenly forced to care for more patients.”

Garfield told The Star this week that healthcare is in her blood — she said her father also works in the healthcare profession.

“I remember when I first was taking some sciences. I was taking anatomy and physiology. When I got to the hard section. I loved it. I want to work with this stuff for the rest of my life. I love it. It’s me. It’s my passion,” Garfield said.

“I want to help people. I love being able to use this skill of mine in such a powerful way to change and save people’s lives. I feel it is where I belong.”

Garfield’s attorney, Russell Newman, has taken legal action on Garfield’s behalf. He said Friday that MTSU officials cannot mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

“You cannot mandate an unapproved vaccine,” said Newman, who is based out of Brentwood.

“That is the position that we are taking. You cannot mandate it. Therefore an exemption is not needed or required.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Avery Garfield” by Avery Garfield