COLUMBUS, Ohio — Aug. 31, 2021 Update: Melissa Rexroth, the central Ohio nurse who said she would be fired for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, showed 10TV an internal email from her employer that says she has been granted a medical exemption.
Melissa Rexroth is a registered nurse. Last year she lived on, what she calls, the “extremely scary” front lines of COVID-19.
“It was the unknown,” she said. “We had no idea what was going on. We weren’t prepared, we didn’t have equipment. We were just winging it.”
As days went on, she says it became second nature.
“I did what I do,” she said. “That’s what I do every day. You go in and care for people.”
Rexroth says it was her heart for others that drove her to get into this field 10 years ago. When family members couldn’t be there to say goodbye to a loved one during COVID-19, she was there.
She won’t be very soon.
“Last year I was good enough to work the front lines [on] the COVID floor with not even the proper equipment [and] equipment that wasn’t working and then this year I’m expendable. It’s heartbreaking.”
10TV confirmed through license records from the Ohio Board of Nursing that Melissa Rexroth is a registered nurse in the state of Ohio. The Ohio Board of Nursing confirmed to 10TV that her license is filed under her maiden name of Melissa Lyons.
Initially, Rexroth didn't want to say where she works because of privacy concerns. She said the requirements at that business, like so many other health care providers around the state, are such that employees must be vaccinated. Rexroth did tell 10TV the name of her employer for the purpose of further verifying that she is currently working as a registered nurse.
10TV confirmed Rexroth's employment with a central Ohio hospital system. That hospital system tells us it does have a Dec. 1 vaccination deadline for all employees, and employees who do not meet the vaccination requirement by that date will no longer be employed.
“First, let me state I am not anti-vax by any means,” she said. “That’s never been my stance. I am pro-choice on this one.”
And her choice is to say “No.”
Rexroth says she is facing termination from her job as of Dec. 1 for refusing to get the vaccine.
She was one of the hundreds of people on Tuesday at the Ohio Statehouse supporting an anti-vaccination bill that would prevent a government mandate of the vaccine. Three days before this, she took to Facebook.
“I made the post at three in the morning with a heavy heart and woke up to it going viral,” Rexworth said.
In four days, her post has been shared more than 441,000 times and has gained more than 200,000 comments both for and against her point of view.
“I have several different reasons," Rexworth said about not getting the vaccine. “I worked on the Covid unit most of last year and most of those patients went home. Almost all of them went home.”
Health issues coupled with unknown long-term effects, which studies show are rare, is why she says no. It’s a choice just like getting the vaccine, she says, should be respected.
As her post continues to spread, she finds comfort in the comments encouraging her to keep fighting.
“Honestly, that keeps me going,” she said. “I need that encouragement. This isn’t an easy spot to be in, not by any means, but I feel a responsibility to keep the fight. I believe in freedom.”
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