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As list of employers requiring COVID vaccine grows, opponents get vocal over mandates

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:42 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 10, 2021 at 9:43 AM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of Maui residents protested on Monday against the recent coronavirus vaccine mandates for student athletes and state and county workers.

They stood outside the state office building in Wailuku demanding to speak with state officials. A protest also happened at Honolulu Hale Monday in an attempt to get the attention of Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

Maui’s protest was the second one on the Valley Isle since the state Department of Education announced student athletes need the COVID-19 vaccine in order to play sports.

Toa Mataafa-Grove, 15, is a sophomore at Baldwin High School. He is a linebacker for the school’s football team and will be leaving his parents and younger siblings so he can continue to play football unvaccinated.

“I’m going to be moving to Pennsylvania with my aunty and play sports up there to have a normal life,” he said.

Firefighters, police officers, and state workers were also outside the state office building protesting the recent vaccine mandate for all state and county employees.

“I’m not anti-vax, I’m anti-force,” said Eliza Yoshida.

Yoshida has been a teacher on Maui for 18 years. She says despite the mandate, she will not be getting the COVID vaccine.

“As a public-school teacher for 18 years, to be told that if I don’t comply with this mandate, then I would be asked to leave, just is heartbreaking,” Yoshida said. “We pour our hearts and souls into these jobs and you’re basically telling us, thanks for all your service, but now we don’t need you. Now we’re willing to let you go because you make a personal choice about what goes into your body.”

Maui’s District Health Officer says the vaccine is a choice, but that choice has consequences.

“That’s a very, very important right. You have the choice to choose or not choose. But if you don’t choose, I have the option to say, then you don’t come here,” said Dr. Lorrin Pang.

“You cannot actually force prisoners to get vaccinated because they don’t have a choice to leave.”

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