By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) –  Protesters gathered at the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol building on Sunday to call for an end to vaccine mandates. The protest was in solidarity with one in Washington, D.C.

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Protestors waved signs that read “No jabs for jobs” and “My body My choice.”

The protest comes two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States. As of Jan. 20, the CDC reports more than 856,000 total deaths from COVID-19 across the country. More than 531 million vaccines have been administered, the agency states.

Danielle Neuschwanger insists they aren’t anti-vaccine rather pro-freedom, “Freedom really is what we’re fighting for.”

Organizer and former state Sen. Ted Harvey says the event is meant to send a message to policymakers at every level of government, “That the American people are rising up and saying enough is enough.”

(credit: CBS)

Among the people at the rally were airline workers, nurses, and teachers.

I’m trying to support my brother,” said Michael Famolare. “He’s a paramedic and he spoke to me this morning about how he’s about to lose a job.”

Protestors used shoes to represent the nearly 5,300 health care workers in Colorado who’ve lost or quit their jobs over the mandate. While the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal vaccine mandate for large private employers, it left in place the mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities.

Cory Blair insists everyone should have the freedom to choose whether to get the COVID vaccine without having to sacrifice their job, “Let people make own medical decisions for self.”

Laurel Imer says it’s a matter of civil rights, “We are forcing citizens to do something against their will. It should be about choice. This is still America and we still have freedom and rights.”

Vaccine mandates vary across Colorado. Some local governments and private employers require workers be vaccinated. State employees and health care workers statewide also must be vaccinated or undergo regular testing. Nationwide, more than two dozen states have some level of vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, about a dozen other states have passed laws barring vaccine mandates.

RELATED: Aurora Public Schools Mandates COVID Vaccines For All Teachers, Staff

Currently in Colorado, health care workers and state employees are mandated to be fully vaccinated or submit to twice-weekly testing. In July of 2021, Denver Health implemented a vaccine mandate for its employees. Soon after, the city of Denver followed suit which was met with criticism from some Denver police officers.

Shaun Boyd