Middle Tennessee State University Nursing Student Who Declined COVID-19 Vaccine Says She Will Push Back Against Unlawful Mandates

The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) nursing student who said police officers forced her from class because she refused the COVID-19 vaccine said she will oppose a school policy that defies her beliefs and her legal rights.

That student, Avery Garfield, spoke to The Tennessee Star on Friday.

“I feel like I have woken up having to make a choice. Do I choose to fight for my rights and keep a hold of my beliefs or do I give in for a career? Mentally, this has taken a lot of heart and a lot of soul, and it has taken a lot out of me,” Garfield said.

“All of that passion that I had with nursing has not necessarily been dampened all the way, but it’s given it a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth.”

In a column last month, the Williamson County-based Tennessee Stands cited MTSU policy, which said nursing students must take the COVID-19 vaccine, with no exceptions.

Garfield’s attorney, Russell Newman, has taken legal action on Garfield’s behalf. He said Friday that MTSU officials cannot mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

“You cannot mandate an unapproved vaccine,” said Newman, who is based out of Brentwood.

“That is the position that we are taking. You cannot mandate it. Therefore an exemption is not needed or required.”

Newman said Thursday that two police officers were waiting for Garfield as she arrived at her nursing class Thursday morning. He said those officers escorted her out of the building. Newman also said MTSU officials will not allow her to attend her clinical, which is part of her nursing curriculum.

MTSU spokesman Jimmy Hart told The Star on Friday that Newman and Garfield did not tell the story accurately.

“After the conversation with the faculty member on the day in question, the student left the meeting acknowledging that she understood she could not attend class and left the building without incident,” Hart said via email.

“University police officers were on site at the request of faculty but did not at any time detain or touch the student. The officers left the building at the same time as the student, but it was not to escort or remove her from the building. She left freely and of her own accord.”

Garfield said Tuesday it’s important that she assert herself.

“If you are scared about standing up for yourself and you are looking to see if anyone else is doing it and you think ‘Oh my God, are they going to think that I am crazy. Am I throwing everything away?’ If you want to use this as your sign then go for it,” Garfield said.

“You can fight back against this. If we come together and we all push against these unlawful mandates and we stand up for the choices of what happens to our own bodies we can win this if we fight together. We the people.”

Newman said Tennessee Stands members support Garfield and are paying for Newman’s time and expenses.

Newman said he was already representing Garfield in a lawsuit against MTSU regarding the vaccine mandate. On Thursday he filed his seventh emergency motion in the case, which is a second application for a temporary restraining order in the Middle District of Tennessee in the federal court.

“The court denied the first application for a temporary restraining order stating that we could not prove irreparable harm so we corrected that, and we filed a second TRO which is an emergency motion with the federal court this afternoon,” Newman said Thursday.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Avery Garfield” by Avery Garfield






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62 Thoughts to “Middle Tennessee State University Nursing Student Who Declined COVID-19 Vaccine Says She Will Push Back Against Unlawful Mandates”

  1. Jack

    She does have a right – not to attend nursing school. Exposing others to her dumb-unvaccinated ass is not a right. Easy.

  2. MadameWhoa

    It would be great if all the ignorant rednecks just got Covid and left the rest of us alone.

  3. Jennifer

    Wow! There are some super judgemental and narrow minded people here. As a nurse, I can confidently attest to the fact that MANY nurses, doctors, techs etc…have not been vaccinated. I can also confidently attests to the fact that not everyone can safely receive the vaccine. The most beautiful part for me about being a nurse is caring for people in their time of need. I choose to work in a hospital as that is my preference. Some nurses work for insurance companies and legal teams and never interact with patients face to face. A nurse is expexted to provide ethical care including treating individuals regardless of personal bias. For those of you who call this student a hypocrite, you are mistaken. She can very well put her concerns regarding the vaccine aside and provide care to the vaccinated. Hcase in point: have you ever had to save the life of a known sex offender?!?! Come on everyone, you can do better than this. Judge not lest ye be judged. P.S.- we have the same right to practice informed consent.

    1. Brenda Paquette

      I am TOTALLY with anyone who pushes back on the “Mandates”. I had a 25th Wedding Anniversary Trip planned for 2 years, destination Key West, FL. My Dr. prescribed a round of Ivermectin as a prophylactic. My husband and I are 63 years old. Not vaccinated or planning on it. We are back home, healthy and flipping Joe Biden the bird. Go live your life!

      1. MadameWhoa

        Your DOCTOR “prescribed” ivermectin!?? Is your doctor a vet? Probably- even horse’s asses need care.

        1. FYourVaccine

          Wow. Tell me you don’t do your own research without telling me you don’t do your own research. Ivermectin is not just for animals.
          Studies have proven that it has actually saved many countries that were riddled with Covid causing their infection rate to plummet. While we are over here literally barely keeping our heads above water because big pharma and everyone else want to profit off our suffering. They don’t care about helping us, they care about making money, otherwise they wouldn’t try to block the ivermectin research and would inform people of ALL the different ways to
          Help curb Covid. But they don’t. The shot is not a vaccine people.

        2. James Rinkevich

          Are you that stupid? Ivermectin was developed for humans.

      2. Matt C

        So you aren’t living your life if you get the vaccine? Give me a break. You’re an old lady that literally has had dozens of vaccines in her life. This is all about the childish “you can’t tell me what to do” stance that afflicts so many in this country. It’s a real shame that you’ll take unproven medicine for this virus instead of an actual vaccine designed to fight COVID. Every living president has been vaccinated, every governor (R and D), nearly every member of congress and soon to be every member of the military. But go ahead, Brenda, you go girl! You done did ur resurrrch.

        1. Tina

          If you truly believe that, you’re ignorant. None have taken the vaccine. You need to get off Twitter or Facebook, stop watching the mockingbird media and do your own research on the topic. So many countries have done research in the vaccines which the vaccinated are producing the variants. The mRNA has literally comprised your innate immune system. Verified by lead virologists all over the world. When Drs here speak out they are silenced, deplatformed to stop the information from getting to the masses. Have you really asked yourself why they would do this? There is so much information at there. Go on rumble and look for Stew Peters. He hosts Drs from all over the world that have done the research. Just a starting place to get information. Wake up.

    2. Michael Ellis

      Beautifully said…. Thank you. It’s all true. Everybody has the right to make his or her own choice about their own body and what goes in it. Well stated.

  4. Kelly

    Do you people realize that even vaccinated people can transmit AND and get the Covid virus, or is your media feed generally not that informative? Also, many hospitals require unvaccinated workers to be tested on a regular basis while vaccinated workers are not. That means that you are face-to-face with a health care provider who has either been tested regularly (unvaccinated) or has not. If they force all workers to get the vaccine, no one will be tested regularly and it’s anyone’s guess as to who is contagious on any given day. Which do you prefer?

  5. Chet Burnes

    “University police officers were on site at the request of faculty but did not at any time detain or touch the student. The officers left the building at the same time as the student, but it was not to escort or remove her from the building. She left freely and of her own accord.”

    The presence of the police officers was an important implicit force. They would have put hands on her had she refused to comply. They left when she did. Therefore they escorted her out.

  6. Todd

    So a person who wants to work in healthcare does not want to have a vaccine that would prevent her from being a danger to the very people she would be caring for?

    This is almost like saying I demand the airline allow me to train to be pilot and employ me but I don’t want to fly because I am afraid of heights. Or a person training to become an ER doctor but having a personal objection to blood transfusions so won’t allow them.

    Her beliefs are irrelevant. She can certainly choose not to be vaccinated. But she cannot then turn around and say I also want to be able to work in a setting meant to cure sick people yet already infect these already sick people with weakened immune systems. There would eventually be lawsuits because of this.

    1. Peg

      She seems feeble minded to me therefor making her completely ineffective to be working in the medical field in any capacity. A nurse that won’t do anything and everything to protect her patients is a coward and not to be trusted. She should be blackballed from any type of medical jobs. Who would possibly want someone that’s not willing to take a vaccine to keep her patients safe, taking care of a family member. I lost a cousin last week, his wife the week before, and a son of theirs is on a vent where they all were admitted together. Another friend contacted me tonight to tell me that her husband would probably die before morning. These are all at the same hospital.

    2. Tnlady

      Not everyone in nursing are frontline workers. You cannot say unequivocally that she would be a threat to patients. Many many nurses do other jobs.

      1. Public health and nursing professional

        Nursing students interact with patients as part of their training. It is a requirement.

      2. Thana BrungesRN, PHN

        Nursing students who are taking part in clinical trading ( I e visiting hospitals to provide services to patients there as part of their nurses training) are legally required to obey all my safety mandates applicable to the participating clinical setting ( ie hospital) and those of their nursing school , which must comply with the hospital which in turn must comply with the CDC. Sorry, if she chooses not to get vaccinated she has chosen to forfeit her nursing career. 42 years in the field as a Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. ( And triple vaccinated.)

      3. Thomas Irvin

        She is not a nurse. She is a nursing student.
        You do a little of everything as a student.

    3. Kathy Swart

      That doesn’t make sense. Many years back there was a flu named the Hong Kong flu. It was fierce and intense. I was sick for two Christmas holiday time. We had a coworker in our department that was sick with this two years in a row. I caught it from her causing me to be sick two Christmas times. She never stayed home with it until the company nurse insisted she stay home for 10 days or until all symptoms ended. I handled all the paperwork and caught it. This COVID sounds very similar. I will take my chances until they have a seriously safe vaccine for this. It took years that my body could handle any flu shots with flu symptoms and missing time from work.

      1. Thana Brunges

        COVID 19 is a novel (ie new, never encountered by humans before) corona virus.Similar Severe Respiratory viruses SARS and MERS were encountered about eight years ago. Scientists were studying these two previous corona viruses for the eight years since they were first discovered. These scientists virologists and pharmacists were working in advance of the discovery of the next SARS or MERS type corona virus to emerge. Days after COVID 19 emerged in Wuhan China Chinese virologists released its genetic code to other concerned virologists world wide. Bio n tech had a reverse mRNA vaccine they had been developing and testing for eight to ten years already, they switched it up b with the new COVID 19 genome and tested if it could be used to fight off COVID 19. Their tests were successful B and that is how we go COVID 19 vaccine so fast plus then President Trump poured billions of dollars into ramping up COVID vaccine development within one year. These vaccines are safe and effective ten years of research had already gone into their development before COVID 19 came along. Any one who is vaccine hesitant in a time when we have safe and effective vaccines for COVID 19 is greatly misinformed. Take the vaccine folks! 😀🌈🥰

    4. Laura Thompson

      This is probably the most ludicrous statement I have ever read in my life !
      They have already PROVEN that this shot does NOT keep you from getting covid NOR does it keep you from transmitting covid. They have also PROVEN that this shot, statistically / per ratio has killed or injured more people than covid has . It has also done more damge and killed way more people than All of the other vaccines combined. And I call it a shot because it is NOT a vaccine. It does NOT even come close to qualifying as a vaccine, and has NEVER met the qualifications of a vaccine. It is a shot. An experimental, investigational, trial shot. PROVEN to have many side effects, and many issues, and many deaths with it.
      All for a virus that again is PROVEN to have a 99.987% survival rate. So maybe you need to ask yourself why you are so eager to shove an unproven POISON into your body and FORCE it onto everyone else. Maybe you should ask yourself WHY as an American you feel that we should be FORCED to give up our rights to make decisions about what we put into our own bodies. Or that people have have the right to BLACKMAIL us or hold us HOSTAGE over this shot !
      SHAME ON YOU !!! and SHAME ON EVERY SINGLE school, business, hospital, store, etc that has blackmailed their students / patrons / employees and held them and their families HOSTAGE, ,over this dangerous, unapproved, trial, investigational, FAKE , “vaccine”.

      1. Thana Brunges RN PHN

        That is a stupid statement . COVID has killed over 600,000 people in the USA. The vaccine prevents 90 percent of COVID 19 and protects 90 plus percent of hospitalizations and serious illness from COVID 19. Not dying or going into the ICU are very good things! Breakthrough infections are rare about 3 out of 100,000 vaccinated and are usually mild unless the individual has severe preexisting conditions like obesity, diabetes, COPD or asthma. I will take my chances with the vaccine any day and have since April. I just got a booster because I have a few pre existing conditions and would like to live to enjoy my retirement after 42 years of service as a Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse 👩‍⚕️ Get vaccinated folks! It’s the only way to stop the pandemic 😷 You stop transmission when all the hosts are vaccinated.

        1. FYourVaccine

          Prevents 90% of Covid? Where did you do your research? That’s not true at all. It doesn’t prevent anything. You can contract and transmit Covid and vaccinated in a lot of cases are more transmissible

      2. Sad American

        Shame on you. I pray to God to end this very real pandemic However , it looks like the principles of Darwin will win out. People like you, spreading misinformation , will keep it going until many more thousands die.

    5. Michael

      It was health care. Workers that worked during all of this without vaccine. Maybe they might know something that you don’t. Maybe you should understand that these Covid vaccine has not been fully tested. Maybe people don’t want that poison in their body. Since these companies have protection from lawsuits. Why would trust the government to do right?

  7. Traditional Thinker

    Wow, it seems the libtard demons are getting stirred up for this young lady’s stance against something that’s yet to show specify its content. Stay strong Garfield. These sheeple have no empathy as they would like you to think. It’s merely fear due to an inability to reason or consider other methods that actually work. They prefer being led around by those profiting from a vaccine that’s creating more infections and as a result, deaths. You’ve proven by your stance here that you’ll be an excellent nurse.

    1. Laura Thompson

      Well said !

  8. Tim Price

    Going to be great when there are no nurses to treat patients because they have all been fired or run out of nursing because they choose to have an opinion that opposing the liberal narrative.

    It is already having in Houston and many other places too I am sure!

    1. Neville Mulhatton

      I wonder how the Dr’s are going to handle their own work and the nurse’s work after most of the nurses are fired. God designed us whit an immune system keep it healthy the vaccine will destroy a healthy immune system

    2. Laura Thompson

      YEP !!
      I think every single one of them should get up and walk out at the exact same time.
      I KNOW the the thought of walking away from your job is terrifying, but even more terrifying than that is living in a country whose leaders feel they have the right to tell you that you HAVE to put something into your body against your will. Or living in a country where your employer can fire you for not getting a shot. Or living in a country where people are now being told they can no longer get on public, transportation, buy groceries, go out to eat or leave their homes without this shot.
      These places will fall if EVERYONE walks out together. We cant stand alone bu together we are strong.
      Where will they be when their entire nursing staff is gone.
      And everyone is complaining of a nursing shortage ?

  9. Tim Price

    The hateful talk on this thread is amazing proving that the Star has been overrun by liberal clowns who believe that giving into the Master is the only way.

    Saying you hope someone dies proves you hate filled liberal heart!

    If these institutions would allow people to make their own decision more people would take
    the vaccination.

    Absolutely evil these commenters!

    1. Patti

      Those that work in healthcare are mandated to have other vaccines as well. This is no different. Refusal to get vaccinated to prevent those under your care from getting sick is contradictory to why most go into healthcare. What’s next, is she going to refuse to wear PPE and masks in the OR?

      1. Seth Franklin

        for all the idiots who are backing up this vaccine, it has not been FDA approved yet therefore it cannot be mandated meaning they can’t force you to take it in any shape or form. The fact that yall are arguing otherwise tells me how ignorant you truly are

  10. John L. Battey

    The irreparable harm is the precedent set for disregard and/or deprivation of individual natural rights.
    It is well documented that the vaccines being injected do not prevent Covid-19 infection, nor do the significantly reduce viral shedding (contagion) if the vaccinated person becomes infected.

  11. 83ragtop50

    I encourage Garfield and her lawyer to fight this to the bitter end. Forced vaccination for any reason by any entity smacks in the face of individual rights.

  12. TJ

    I would much rather have this young woman’s care without even a medical license than the lock step zombies who have taken the poison and are currently working in our Josef Mengele health care system.

    A large amount of foolish people in these comments today speaking their nonsense “Just get in the boxcar there are hot showers waiting at the destination.”

    If y’all keep believing that the government and fully controlled healthcare system are your loving trusted friends you are already too far gone!

    You can only get so stupid for free and then you will have to pay for your ignorance!

  13. William R. Delzell

    The vaccine has been approved by the U.S. government as safe to use. I had my two Pfizer vaccines last March and April and have had no symptoms. As a nursing student, Avery Garfield has an obligation to her fellow students, faculty, and future patients to vaccinate herself against a super-deadly disease. Otherwise, she has no business in the medical profession. The anti-vaxers have told enough lies that have already killed more than enough people, especially in places like my former home of Tennessee.

    1. Ric Hackett

      Former home… Good ridance.

    2. Crystal Thomas

      You are so full of it I personally know a nurse who has had both of her shots and has to this day gotten COVID three times go lie to someone else

      1. J Feledy

        You missed an important point! The nurse was vaccinated and still caught covid three times… but she lived!!! Many who were not vaccinated caught it once and didn’t live.
        Research states that 98% of the people hospitalized with covid were NOT vaccinated.
        The vaccine may not stop you from getting covid, but good chance you’ll get a milder case. Good reason to wear your mask and wash your hands often too.

  14. Roger Smith

    You, my dear are not fit to ever be called a nurse

    1. Tim Price

      How evil you are!

  15. Bob

    I hope she flunks out she is the very epitome of stupidity

  16. Angela Michaels

    It has been proven that the Wuhan shot sterilizes a woman. If a woman does get pregnant after taken the shot, she has a miscarriage within the first trimester. Why would you force this atrocity upon women?

    1. Patti

      Your statement has no basis in fact. Cite your source.

    2. James Rinkevich

      There are no studies showing how safe it is for pregnant women, let alone showing it hurts them

  17. Treass Douglas

    Nobody wants a nurse to be standing over them with Covid l l suggest you find another profession cause I definitely would refuse your help

  18. Maura

    Just look what is happening in Israel. They pretty much forced their people to take the vaccine. 90% were vaccinated. Now Israel is in a mess and it is the vaccinated people ending up in the hospital. This vaccine is a human experiment. No one can know what this will do to your body in years to come. No one should be forced to choose job over vaccine. That is what communist countries do. Force people. Not being vaccinated does not put anyone in danger . There are many doctors , not allowed a voice, that believe mass vaccination is what is causing the variants to become stronger. We can not afford to lose our personal freedom of choice. This vaccine does not stop the virus and it may be harmful to your body. Many get covid and survive and produce natural antibodies that will help survive ongoing attacks. More people should stand up for their rights. I hope she wins her case. She should. Fear is driving this madness . Or politics. Wake up America.

    1. Patti

      Why then are the hospitals overflowing with very sick non vaccinated people?

    2. Robin

      My son is a Resident at a large hospital. Not once did any patient say (the ones that survived) gee I’m glad I didn’t get the vaccine! So much regret when you’re fighting for your life! This is not about your freedom, this is about your survival, and everyone else’s. It’s just ignorant and selfish to not get the vaccine.

  19. Lynn Downum

    She will come to her senses when COVID-19 or worse gets one of her family members she loves dearly or gets her. Of course at the point it gets her, it will be too late. Her refusal to be vaccinated shoes she is not nurse material. She obviously is unconcerned about possibly infecting others and especially patients under her care. I hope I never have her as a nurse. She would be in the list of Nurse Rachetts on any floor of a hospital

  20. Art

    Way to go young lady! I’ll be there with you as mandates hit government employees

  21. Celeste Brodeur

    And then let her die when she becomes infected. Her choice. All I can say is that she is young and dumb.

    1. Darren

      Do you have the same energy about abortion. Remember it’s a women body

  22. Bakes

    Refusing the vaccination is putting herself and her patients at a higher risk. She is going to be serving the public. The health profession is about helping , healing and yea, educating those without medical training. Having 15 minutes in the spotlight for refusing to follow science, to be willing to put o Weald and others at medical risk is not what nursing is about. Perhaps a different profession should be sought if there is no regard for protecting patients.

  23. Patricia Holcomb

    As an RN myself, it is hard for me to understand how someone studying to be a nurse does not understand the rigorous testing that went behind the now FDA approved COVID-19 Vaccinations by Phyzer. I would think she would want to do everything she could to protect herself, her patients, and her family against transmission of this terrible Pandemic. Prayers with you, future nurse, that you either come to your senses and get the vaccination or that you are not exposed. She is the first step in fighting this terrible pandemic and by being an example to all around her by showing the safety of the vaccine. Roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated now!

  24. Eagle

    Go get’em Miss Garfield. It’s about time someone stood up to the “self-appointed ruling class”.

    1. Patti

      What don’t you understand about a worldwide pandemic that has killed millions and is not contained

  25. rick

    Her body her choice, right you lying hypocrite democrats, oh thats only about abortion and murdering the unborn not about your vaccine mandates.

    1. Raquel wallae

      You don’t believe in
      God does believe in us but you have to be a good person who does not hate others for their believe there are some great people in this world specially in this wonderful country call USA