Newport News shipyard workers again hold rally protesting vaccine mandate

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Employees rallied outside Newport News Shipbuilding to protest the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Friday.

All workers must get their first shots by Oct. 27 or Nov. 3, depending on whether they get Moderna or Pfizer. Those getting the J&J vaccine will need to do it by Nov. 24.

Dozens lined Huntington Avenue holding signs and waving American flags. There were also a number of kids out with their parents who work at the shipyard.

Many people told 10 On Your Side their issue isn’t with the vaccine but with the federal mandate forcing it on employees.

Some protesters were fully vaccinated and came out to support their co-workers choice to get the jab — like Linda Coffey.

“I took off at 3 p.m. so I could get here before the shifts changed. I got the vaccination because I chose to but I’m here with my brothers and sisters to stand with them,” said Coffey, who has worked for Newport News Shipbuilding for the last 41 years.

Susan Bowman, a retired merchant marine, stood with Coffey.

“If you want to get the shot, fine, but don’t make somebody get the shot. It should be a choice. Everyone has different medical issues, different religious beliefs. I don’t believe that you should make it mandatory that someone should get this vaccine. I’m totally against that, there’s too much government control,” Bowman stated.

60% of Newport News Shipbuilding’s 25,000 employees were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Protesters told 10 On Your Side they’re planning to rally again on Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m. outside the shipyard.

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