An organization called the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance pledged Friday to help Los Alamos National Laboratory workers protest mandatory coronavirus vaccinations.
The protest has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Los Alamos’ Ashley Pond.
The protesters will include “a group from the Los Alamos National Laboratory with support from the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance,” said Melanie Rubin, who is on the executive committee of the freedom organization.
Rubin said she expected “hundreds” of the laboratory’s employees to participate, although the effort to organize them had just started.
A Los Alamos National Laboratory spokeswoman said the mandate came from Triad National Security, the company that manages and operates the national lab. It applies, she said, to Los Alamos National Laboratory employees and on-site contractors and subcontractors. It also covers new hires and teleworkers.
Triad announced the mandate Aug. 23, and it will fully take effect in mid-October. More than 85 percent of the employees were vaccinated in late August, “and that number continues to grow,” the spokeswoman said in an email Friday.
A news release sent Friday by the freedom group said, among other things: “Every New Mexican deserves the right to choose what happens to their own body. The people who want to get vaccinated should do so. Those who don’t want to do so should have the right to say NO!” The news release called the protest a “Freedom Assembly” and encouraged protest participants to take vacation time for the event.
The item also mentioned constitutional rights, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and codes of medical ethics in “the Nuremberg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki.” Sarah Smith of Las Cruces, also an executive committee member of the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance, was named at the top of the news release.
“We’ve been working with people from LANL,” Smith said in an interview. Smith and Rubin, of the Albuquerque area, said the impetus for their organization stemmed from various coronavirus-related requirements that have affected employees, children, businesses, schools, prisons and other people and places. Both also mentioned the importance of people having control over decisions affecting their bodies, but neither said their organization had discussed or taken a position on abortion.
Rubin said her interest was in “all issues of bodily sovereignty. And also civil liberties, human rights, constitutional rights.” Rubin said she has been placed on leave as an instructional systems designer who produces training programs at Presbyterian Healthcare Services because she hasn’t been vaccinated. She said she contracted the coronavirus and was effectively treated with homeopathic therapies.
The coronavirus vaccines haven’t gone through extensive clinical trials, Rubin added.
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said in the Aug. 23 news release that the mandate was needed to “meet our Laboratory’s critical mission requirements amid rising COVID-19 case rates in northern New Mexico and beyond.”
Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a vaccine advocate and public health doctor at New Mexico State University, wrote Friday in an email that efforts must be made to reduce complacency, increase confidence in the vaccines, promote collective responsibility and communicate clearly about the vaccines. “Such efforts take time and strategic action,” he wrote.