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Unvaccinated Indy pediatric doctor: ‘Ultimately, I have to answer to God’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A pediatric critical-care doctor in Indianapolis says he is not putting children at risk by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In an exclusive interview with News 8, Dr. Paul Halczenko said his choice was based on religious reasons.

Halczenko started working at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent in 2012. However, he hasn’t worked since November when Ascension St. Vincent placed him on leave after rejecting his request for a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Halczenko sued to block the hospital’s vaccine mandate, but last week a federal judge refused to reinstate Halczenko to his job.

Ascension has reinstated four other employees who were part of the lawsuit after the hospital decided in mid-December to not enforce its vaccine ban.

News 8 asked Halczenko if his decision to not get vaccinated was worth it.

“Was making this decision to stand up for religious liberty and to stand for God’s will, was that worth it? That is always worth it. Ultimately, I have to answer to God,” Halczenko said.

News 8 also asked Halzcenko, “What do you say to anyone out there who says your decision is irresponsible or as a doctor you’re not following the science? How do you defend your decision?”

“Well, first I would say I am following the science. The preponderance of the evidence suggests and even as we know now — not necessarily at the time of the lawsuit, but certainly in the intervening weeks and months — that vaccination does not actually prevent transmission. So, the best protection that I can offer to my patients is to use the personal protective equipment and the other measures that are employed by health care workers across the world and have been demonstrated to be effective,” Halczenko said.

Ascension’s original vaccine policy said Halczenko would be fired Tuesday if he still had not been vaccinated.

News 8 reached out to a spokesperson for the hospital group to ask if the doctor had in fact been fired. The spokesperson would only say they “do not comment on personnel matters.”