About 3,000 people gathered at the Michigan Capitol on Friday to protest governments and employers mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dressed in American flag clothing, Donald Trump flags, and back-the-blue shirts, they waved signs, saying, “my body, my choice.”
“2020: heroes. 2021: victims,” another said of frontline health care workers, many of whom must be vaccinated to continue work or quit.
“Imagine vaccines so safe you have to be threatened to take it for a pandemic so deadly, you have to be tested to know you have it,” another sign read.
About 63.9% of Michiganders ages 16 and older are vaccinated. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spent $5 million on a taxpayer-fueled lottery that failed to boost the state's rate by the nine percentage points needed to reach 70%.
Representatives from Stand Up Michigan, Let Them Play, Michigan Conservative Coalition, and several other conservative groups attended. The event featured Republican Reps. Matt Maddock of Milford, Sue Allor of Wolverine, Daire Rendon of Lake City, and Sen. Tom Barrett of Charlotte.
The four railed against what they call government overreach to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We’ve been two years into the two weeks to flatten the curve, and enough is enough,” Maddock said.
“[Vice President] Kamala [Harris] said she didn’t trust the Trump vaccine,” Maddock said. “Are we supposed to trust theirs?”
The rally follows Michigan’s largest universities – Michigan State University Michigan, and Grand Valley State – requiringd students and staff be vaccinated, catching the criticism of Barrett.
“We have always protected informed consent as it relates to medical procedures,” he said during a speech. “Consent means the ability to decide for yourself without coercion from others, regardless of what they tell you you should or should not do.”
Barrett blamed obesity, fear and anxiety for exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan.
“We’re not afraid anymore,” he said. "We’re going to embrace our freedoms; we’re going to live our lives.”
Although some breakthrough COVID-19 infections occur once vaccinated, the vaccine aims to reduce symptoms, hospitalizations, and death so hospitals won’t again be overwhelmed by patients during the winter.
A recent British study found the COVID-19 vaccine sharply reduces the risk of infection and causes less severe symptoms compared to infected, non-vaccinated people.
The state says nearly 20,000 people have died of COVID-19 as a sole or contributing factor, most of whom were ages 60 and older.