TAMPA, Fla. — Protesters took to the streets in Tampa Friday to speak out against the mayor’s mandate requiring all city staff be vaccinated or be tested once a week.

What You Need To Know

  • Tampa workers have until Sept. 30 to get vaccinated

  • Protesters say their freedoms are being violated

  • The city says workers who don't vaccinate must submit weekly negative COVID tests and wear an N95 mask

Protesters said City of Tampa Employees says they shouldn’t have to choose between getting the COVID-19 and the risk of losing their jobs and their paychecks.

“I foresee that becoming a very real probability that people are gonna have to make choices and that should not be the case. Your livelihood or a vaccine. That shouldn’t be where we’re at in this country,” said protester Jackie MacLean. “Our country was founded on freedoms."

Freedoms were the hot topic with the group. About 80 or more people gathered in front of City Hall and held up signs. Several speakers also talked to the crowd with a microphone.

Audra Christian doesn’t work for the city but said she showed up to represent employees. “Nobody should be forced to do any kind of medical risky vaccination. It should be your own decision,” Christian said.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor released this statement in response to the protest: "Ninety-nine percent of hospital admissions for COVID were among those not fully vaccinated. Vaccines are safe and effective. The policy is the right thing to do for our employees and our community."

City staff have until Sept. 30 to get vaccinated or submit weekly to COVID tests and they would also be required to wear an N95 mask. If an employee just had COVID and still has those short-term antibodies, they can submit those test results.