Annette Roy of Lewiston, a licensed practical nurse since 1977, is dead-set against the COVID-19 vaccine.

She said she and her husband, Lionel, are the only ones in their family who are not immunized, a decision she thinks will keep the couple safe. The rest of her family, she fears, is not.

“I bet within three years, I will go to their funerals,” she said this week.

Given her stance, which flies in the face of scientific studies and public health advice, it’s hardly surprising that she has no intention of getting jabbed in time to keep her job after the Oct. 1 deadline that Gov. Janet Mills set for health care workers to be fully vaccinated.

“Today I throw in my towel,” Roy said. “I’m walking away from my profession. I’m done,” she said.

For 22-year-old Meghan Curley of Farmington, a certified nursing assistant at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, the mandate is unsettling.

Suffering from  autoimmune issues herself, she’s worried the vaccine might wind up hurting her.

“I don’t know what to do,” Curley said Friday. “I’m just kind of protesting it as much as I can” and hoping it will work out. She said she doesn’t want to be forced to quit a job that lets her help people so much.

Roy said she cannot believe that Mills and President Joe Biden, whom she called “the demented one,” are ordering her “to put a poison into my arm.”

“I’m not taking the poison,” Roy said.

There is no widespread evidence that any of the vaccines given emergency approval in the United States cause harm. Tens of millions of Americans have received them safely and experience has proven that people who have been inoculated are far less likely to get COVID-19 and even more unlikely to get dangerously sick from it.

Even so, Roy said, she is convinced from her research, which includes watching a YouTube video from a purported nurse who gives her name only as Nicole, that the vaccines haven’t been studied enough to know if they are safe.

Roy said she started working as a nurse in hospitals at age 20. For the past two decades, she said, she’s worked at some point for nearly every nursing home within an hour’s drive of Lewiston.

“I’ve loved every single minute of it,” she said.

In that time, Roy said, she held the hands of the dying, “cleaned things you would gag at” and helped sick people through some of the hardest moments of their lives.

A year ago, she said, she took comfort during an especially difficult time from the outpouring of support that medical personnel received from a public worried about the pandemic and grateful to the professionals who risked their own health to help others.

She said now that many of those same professionals are wary of the vaccine, they’re portrayed entirely differently.

“Last year, we were heroes,” Roy said, “and this year we’re zeroes?”

“This isn’t right,” she said.

She said Mills had no power to issue an edict requiring people get vaccinated if they want to keep working and that Biden, too, should not have ordered nursing homes to require immunizations of their employees if they want to keep receiving federal Medicaid and Medicare payments that are crucial to their bottom lines.

“Nobody’s standing up for us,” Roy said.

Roy said many workers are going to quit rather than go along with the orders from Mills and Biden.

Whether that’s true is uncertain.

She said the departure of nonvaccinated workers will mean that some nursing home patients may die alone, that some may wait days to have sheets changed and that some health care institutions will struggle to provide care.

Roy said if “Janet wants my license,” then she can go out and do the work.

Telling people to “take the vaccine or lose your job” is unbelievable, Roy said.

“I’m totally disgusted,” she said. “We have rights as Americans. We have rights as health care workers.”

She said she will never give in.

“I’d rather die a free person,” Roy said.

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