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Spring Valley couple face firing over health worker vaccine mandate

Spring Valley couple face firing over health worker vaccine mandate
Posted at 4:17 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-02 12:07:20-04

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) - A Spring Valley couple is speaking out after their vaccine stance led to suspensions, as the health care vaccine mandate deadline arrived.

Since the pandemic began, Gio Cabrera and his wife Vanessa, both nursing assistants, have been on the frontlines at Edgemoor Hospital, a county-run skilled nursing facility in Santee.

Cabrera says he and his wife are about to lose their jobs.

“Frustrated and upset … We were regarded as heroes and now we are zeroes,” said Cabrera.

On Thursday, as the state's vaccine mandate deadline for health workers arrived, the couple received phone calls.

“They just told us we are suspended for 60 days,” said Cabrera.

Cabrera says he and his wife has 60 days to be vaccinated or they'll be fired.

The couple, non-denominational Christians, have applied for a religious exemption, but haven't heard if they've been rejected.

Cabrera says they have no intention of getting the vaccine.

“Those are my moral beliefs, basically … That important that I'm losing my job over it, and I'm not going to take it (vaccine),” said Cabrera.

Cabrera says they aren't alone because dozens of co-workers got the same calls.

“Union told us it was between 40 and 70 people,” said Cabrera.

In hospitals across the county, the questions loom about the impact of the vaccine mandate on staffing and quality of care.

It appears that pool of workers won't include the Cabreras. In two months, they expect to be looking for new jobs, elsewhere.

“We're looking at getting out of California to where they don't require that mandate,” said Cabrera.

A county spokesperson issued the following statement:

“In accordance with the CDPH guidance and facility needs, appropriate accommodations have been made for those who qualify for exemption. Note that as of noon today, seven of the County’s 1,133 employees identified as working at a facility covered under the Aug. 5 California Department of Public Health order were non-compliant.”