Nurses have suffered a huge backlash from their families and employers for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, just months after they were showered with praise for risking their health while working through the pandemic.
'A year ago I was a hero, and now I'm being treated like scum,' said Becca Pitt, a 21-year-old nursing assistant in Indiana who wants to get pregnant within three years and fears the vaccine's potential effects on her fertility.
'We don't know the side effects,' she added.
She is not alone in her fears, despite the CDC assuring the public that there is no evidence the vaccines cause fertility issues in men or women.
Another nurse spoke frankly with Suzy Weiss about being forced to quit rather than get the vaccine while breastfeeding.
A third slammed the mandates as an attempt at 'segregation'.
'I have been called selfish, uneducated and idiot and worse from people [who are] pro-vaccine,' Pitts told DailyMail.com.
'A year ago I was a hero, and now I'm being treated like scum,' said Becca Pitt (pictured), a 21-year-old nursing assistant in Indiana who intends to fall pregnant within three years and holds fears about the vaccine's potential effects on her fertility - 'we don't know the side effects.'
Jennifer Peters (pictured), a nurse and lactation consultant who gave birth to a baby girl five months ago, fears that the jab may affect the quality of her breast milk and doesn't want to take any chances. She applied for an exemption to the mandate, but her request was denied
When maternity nurse Jennifer Peters, 39, took to Instagram, posting a solemn photo of her discarded work shoes and hospital badge as a tribute to the times (pictured), her post nearly accrued a million likes within a week
All three nurses interviewed had caught COVID during a period where most were quarantining at home while they were deemed 'essential'.
They pointed out the 'absurdity' of being forced to vaccinate when natural immunity is 27 times more effective than vaccinated immunity in preventing COVID infection, according to the largest COVID study worldwide, conducted in Israel and detailed by the Wall Street Journal.
'When I lived [with my family] during the first COVID outbreak and wave I lived in a camper to keep everyone safe. I had to strip down and shower immediately on getting home before I could see anyone,' Pitts told DailyMail.com on Tuesday.
'I have felt the pressure from a lot of my family to get the vaccine to not lose my job. In their eyes it is more important for me to keep my job than [to] stand for my moral beliefs because I have bills to pay... [it's] very hard for them to understand.'
'Some of my extended family has actually cancelled plans with me when they found out I was unvaccinated.'
Pitts told Weiss she often worked grueling 60-hour weeks of 12 and even 16 hour shifts in nursing homes and hospital wards in 2020, helping patients bathe and eat while wearing the same surgical mask for up to a week due to shortages and sometimes without a surgical gown.
As the pandemic unfolded, Pitts said 'you would have no idea what you were walking into' coming in to work each day.
Becca Pitts, second from right, is pictured with her father, Andreas (left), her mother, Bethany (second from left), her six-year-old sister, Bella and her grandmother, Barbara (right)
Now that Becca Pitts (left) and her six-year-old sister (second from left) are the only members of her family that remain unvaccinated, she told DailyMail.com that she faces constant pressure from them and her friends to get the jab. They are pictured here with their mother Bethany and their puppy, Harvest
A man is pictured holding a sign as East Bay first responders drive by during a procession to show support and appreciation of health care workers at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, California last May. Pitts recalled that local residents would hang signs and cheer when she and coworkers left the hospital for the day - now, she said, she is 'treated like scum' for her choice to remain unvaccinated
Through it all, frontline workers were hailed as heroes.
The medical facilities where she worked were plastered with signs that were emblazoned with thankful messages like 'heroes work here.'
One of them held raffles for expensive electronics, while others handed out goodie bags and cash prizes to staff, and local residents often clapped and cheered when she and her coworkers left the hospital for the day - just for showing up amid a global health crisis.
'Our administrators threw us pizza parties and doughnut parties constantly,' she said.
When she was exhausted by the excruciating shifts and the fear of the virus we didn't fully understand, her family doled out praise and filled out thank you cards.
Now that she and her six-year-old sister are the only members of her family that remain unvaccinated, she is a pariah.
San Diego-based maternity nurse Jen Peters, 39, resigned from her position at Scripps hospital four weeks ago after the California Department of Public Health mandated the vaccine for healthcare workers in August.
Peters, who gave birth to a baby girl five months ago, fears that the jab may affect the quality of her breast milk and doesn't want to take any chances. She applied for an exemption to the mandate, but her request was denied.
'For over 5 years I’ve advocated for patients for bodily autonomy, respecting their medical choices even if I may have disagreed with them,' wrote San Diego-based nurse Garen Pido (pictured) on her social media accounts. 'Today I was told I would no longer be able to sit inside to eat or drink while working my shift'
Garen Pido (pictured) questions the safety of the vaccines and, like Pitts, fears for her fertility. Like Peters, she is also a mother, and has a baby girl and a two-year-old boy
On her last day, October 28, her coworkers brought her cupcakes and bouquets of flowers, imploring her to allay her concerns and just get vaccinated.
'People came up to me that day and said, "You know what, I’m vaccinated, and we really wish you would do this to stay with us,"' she recounted.
When Peters took to Instagram, posting a solemn photo of her discarded work shoes and hospital badge as a tribute to the times, her post nearly accrued a million likes within a week:
'These shoes were on my feet and this badge was clipped to my chest as I walked into the hospital for my very first shift as a brand new nurse 12 years ago,' she wrote.
'These shoes were on my feet and this badge was clipped to my chest as I held a dying man’s hand before he passed on.'
'These shoes were on my feet and this badge was clipped to my chest as I worked through the pandemic that had most of the world safely isolating at home.'
Healthcare workers who were sent home or faced scrutiny for refusing to get vaccinated noted that 'times are changing' from last year, when healthcare workers were celebrated for working through the pandemic
'But this week these shoes and this badge were retired, not by choice but because I refused to get a new vaccine while breastfeeding the baby I suffered 4 miscarriages & COVID while pregnant to finally have in my arms,' she wrote.
'So these shoes will never be on my feet again and this badge will never be clipped to my chest again. It's time for a new pair of shoes.'
Now, Peters is focusing full-time on her prenatal breastfeeding courses with her business, Your BestFeeding.
Garen Pido, an unvaccinated nurse in Ventura, California who has been barred from taking her lunch breaks inside with her vaccinated coworkers despite daily COVID tests, called mandates 'punitive' and called them 'a policy of segregation and discrimination based on medical choice' on Instagram.
'For over 5 years I’ve advocated for patients for bodily autonomy, respecting their medical choices even if I may have disagreed with them. Today I was told I would no longer be able to sit inside to eat or drink while working my shift,' she wrote.
'I was told I need to sit outside in the name of “health” to protect vax* individuals. Sorry, I thought that was the vaccine's job.'
Pido questions the safety of the vaccines and, like Pitts, fears for her fertility. Like Peters, she is also a mother, and has a baby girl and a two-year-old boy.
'It isn't even about the vaccine or health anymore,' she wrote. 'It's about politics and compliance.'
Pido's husband, a firefighter, also had his job jeopardized by vaccine mandates. She told Weiss that they are hoping the deadline to get his vaccine will be pushed back, and that his firehouse is 'insanely busy, and so short on staff.'
Pido questions the safety of the vaccines and, like Pitts, fears for her fertility. 'I was told I need to sit outside in the name of “health” to protect vax* individuals,' she wrote. 'Sorry, I thought that was the vaccine's job'
Pido's husband, a firefighter (pictured far right beside Pido), also had his job jeopardized by vaccine mandates. She told Weiss that they are hoping the deadline to get his vaccine will be pushed back, and that his firehouse is 'insanely busy, and so short on staff'
Francisco Gomez, a paraprofessional who worked with autistic and disabled children at a New York City public school, told Weiss he had been laid off from his job last Wednesday for his non-compliance with vaccine mandates.
After his union offered him no help, and told him he didn't qualify for a pension, Gomez said he walked into the assistant principal's office and said he felt used.
'I was working in the building for the entire pandemic,' he said, teary-eyed, before he left the building and went on involuntary leave.
'I was just getting a round of applause for being an essential worker,' Gomez said. 'Now, four or five months later, I’m being thrown under the bus.'
At the height of the pandemic, he recalled, he quarantined twice when students at the school where he worked exposed him to the virus.
'What made me not want to take it is because they were forcing me to take the vaccine or I lose my job,' said Gomez, who lives with his vaccinated mother and grandmother.
'I'll probably get it after New Years... literally when I'm at my last dollar and I'm starving. Then I'll go back to living poor instead of living in poverty.'
'They want everyone to get in line for economic and political reasons. If America really cared about our health we would have universal health care. But really they just care about us moving forward as cogs. I see the vaccine as a symbol of all that.'
Gomez said it 'grinds his gears' that he and other anti-vaxxers are typecast as 'psycho Republicans.'
'They say that I’m a Donald Trump fan, a MAGA-supporter, or that I don’t believe science and I listen to QAnon,' he said. 'Health has been politicized.'
Just over 70 percent of the total US population had gotten at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine