An anesthesiologist at UCLA Health in California who has been open online about his concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine was escorted from his workplace this week for refusing to get vaccinated.
Disturbing video footage posted to Twitter shows Dr. Christopher Rake being escorted out of the UCLA Medical Plaza in Westwood.
“This is what happens when you stand up for freedom and when you show up to work, willing to work, despite being unvaccinated, and this is the price you have to pay sometimes,” Rake can be heard saying in the video. “But what they don’t realize is that I’m willing to go lose everything — job, paycheck, freedom, even my life for this cause.”
“Be well. United we stand, divided we fall,” Rake concluded.
UCLA Health, which includes several hospitals in Los Angeles, has a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place for all active employees working in person. Staffers only other option is to get an exemption in accordance with University of California policy and a state public health order issued on August 5.
This order states that all California healthcare workers must have received their second shot of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by September 30.
“Those out of compliance are subject to progressive discipline, including restricting access to worksites and being placed on leave,” a UCLA spokesperson said, according to The Sacramento Bee.
During a Santa Monica anti-vaccination rally in August, Dr. Rack told a crowd that “they want to force a vaccination or medication or treatment into my body that I don’t want. So they’re telling me, ‘Take the jab, or we take your job.’ And I’m here to say ‘no. That’s not OK.'”
UCLA immediately responded in a statement, saying, “These comments do not represent the views of UCLA Health. Unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID-19 & we encourage employees to be vaccinated. We adhere to the state public health order requiring health care workers to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.”
These comments do not represent the views of UCLA Health. Unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID-19 & we encourage employees to be vaccinated. We adhere to the state public health order requiring health care workers to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
— UCLA Health (@UCLAHealth) August 31, 2021
Other UCLA staffers have tried to distance themselves from Rack.
“I think it’s mind-boggling that a physician at a world-class institution would go to such a rally and use their name as a physician to directly contradict public health,” said Dr. Anna Yap, an emergency medicine resident physician at UCLA.
“We as a health care community … were some of the earliest in the country to have access to [the vaccine],” added
Dr. Nina Shapiro, a professor of head and neck surgery at UCLA’s School of Medicine. “To twist that into a negative – especially when you know one of the main reasons why we are in this disastrous delta [variant-driven surge] is due to slow vaccine acceptance in the community – and spewing this misinformation is frankly deadly.”