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Local Nurse’s Firing Video Captures National Attention

An emotional video of UCLA ICU nurse Tara Vafaeenia being escorted off hospital grounds by a campus security officer went viral after being posted to Instagram by author and conservative commentator David Harris, Jr.

“So, I’m being escorted out of UCLA for standing up for medical freedom,” Vafaeenia, a nurse of 12 years, said in the video that has so far garnered nearly one million views. “Despite coming to work, willing to work, I can’t believe this is what they are doing right now. I’m going to fight for all of us out there. I will continue to fight. This is not okay. I came to work despite being unvaccinated and willing to work for patients, to help out staff, and this is how we’re treated?”

Vafaeenia has been placed on suspended, unpaid leave from UCLA Health after refusing to comply with a government-issued mandate requiring all health care workers to receive a COVID shot meant to reduce the virulence of COVID-related viruses. Vafaeenia has been employed with UCLA Health for six years. She told the Conejo Guardian that major hospital organizations have taken “a turn for the worse” since the COVID outbreak in March 2020.

“We [employees] have been forced to take measures we shouldn’t have had to take, like masking, testing and social distancing,” she said. “[UCLA Health] has treated individuals who have chosen to abstain from the COVID vaccination as a threat, as contagious persons. We have been isolated and segregated from the vaccinated even though we know there is virus transmissibility among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.”

Constant masking caused bruises on her face and impeded her work, she says.

“I wore goggles that would steam up so I couldn’t properly do intervention,” she told the Guardian.

She recalled that recently “there were [only] one or two patients on my unit who had COVID. As much as the [media] is saying there’s a substantial rise [in COVID hospitalizations], I’m not seeing it.”

From Hero to Pariah

After serving on the medical front lines throughout 2020 and 2021, Vafaeenia is now undergoing an extraordinary transition from community hero to segregated pariah. Being forced to receive a vaccine to keep her job became her line in the sand.

Screen Grab: Nurse Tara Vafaeenia’s video of a tearful, forced departure from her job gained national attention.

“[The mandates] are about control, and people very high up want control,” she says. “They have implemented ways to convince people [the vaccine] is worth giving up their freedoms. … Everybody should be able to make a decision about her own body without interference from the government or a corporation or an employer. These mandates are not law. They are not constitutional. … [E]ither I stand by my convictions and do what I believe is right and stand up for freedom and for the ability to have free speech, to have control over my own body, or I succumb to these tyrannical ways and do what they tell me.”

Statistics released by the nonprofit USAFacts.org show an estimated 68 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots since they were authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year. But many remain skeptical. To date, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the number of COVID-19 vaccine deaths is greater than all vaccine deaths combined from 1990 to the present. And California, which leads the nation in implementing the most severe coronavirus restrictions, still ranks number one for the highest number of coronavirus cases and COVID-related deaths according to Worldometer, which reported on November 8 a total of 4,840,843 coronavirus cases and 72,754 COVID-related deaths in the Golden State.

California was also the first to mandate that all health care workers receive the COVID shots, and most have complied. Major hospital systems in the region claim 90 percent of medical staff are fully vaccinated. Media outlet CalMatters reported that “Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, and Keck Medicine have vaccination rates of 90 percent or higher.” CalMatters also stated that “despite predictions that the mandate would cause severe staffing shortages, many major hospitals were confident Thursday’s deadline would not disrupt daily operations.” Moreover, “large hospitals — with the exception of a major provider in San Diego — said they had only small numbers of requests for medical and religious exemptions.”

But exemptions have been squelched in practice. Vafaeenia applied for a religious exemption, which was pending approval when she was placed on unpaid leave. She explained that had her exemption been approved, she would have been forced to comply with rigid biweekly testing, along with a daily symptom-tracking survey tracing her biometrics.

“I would not comply with their mitigation measures any longer,” said Vafaeenia, noting that UCLA Health had “brought in a third-party company to take on the huge influx of exemption requests.”

UCLA Health issued a statement to the Guardian which read: “Per the state public health order and University of California policy, active UCLA Health employees not working remotely must be vaccinated or receive an exemption. Regular testing is required for unvaccinated employees. Those out of compliance are subject to progressive discipline, including restricting access to work sites, being placed on leave and ultimately being released from employment. More than 94% of UCLA Health’s approximately 28,000 active employees not working remotely are fully vaccinated.”

Following her suspension, Vafaeenia refused to leave the hospital, saying she was there to provide patient care. “I’m not going to leave. I would like not to be harassed. My medical records should not determine my skill set,” she told her manager.

When she was told she could not work and that she was violating hospital policy, Vafaeenia said that “the policy was not law — in fact, it was violating the law.” She told her employer, “You will have to call security because I am not going to leave.”

Those moments caught national attention on Harris’ Instagram account, which counts 1.4 million followers. Vafaeenia was also placed on unpaid leave by her other employer, a fertility clinic in Beverly Hills, for not being vaccinated. The sudden transition out of two places of employment was unexpected, but “God is great, and He directs me down the path that is most suitable,” she says.

“Although this is a tragic way to end my bedside nursing career, I don’t think I want to work in a hospital again,” Vafaeenia told the Guardian. “It’s not about the empathy and compassion right now. It’s not about a good environment for your employees to be able to take care of patients who are sick. The environment is toxic; I don’t think it benefits the patients either.”

Vafaeenia plans to move into alternative types of nursing while continuing to stand up for what she believes — and to encourage others to speak up. Friends created a crowdfunding campaign titled “UCLA ICU Nurse Standing for Freedom” on her behalf, raising more than $20,000 in funds so far.

On her own Instagram page, she wrote: “Remember that bravery is not the lack of fear but the ability to move forward in spite of fear.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Shame on you UCLA and Govenor Newsome! You take our rights away and treat us badly! She worked through out 2020-21. During the worse time. Shame on you!

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