Our view: The Vaccination Act

And so it is that two triad Republicans, one of whom is a former hospital director, who both received COVID shots, filed a bill against vaccination mandates.

Rep. Donny Lambeth of Forsyth County and Jon Hardister of Guilford County are among the major sponsors of House Bill 98, or the Medical Freedom Act.

The bill passed the House Health Committee and still needs to clear two other committees to make it to the House floor for a full vote.

As reported by the Journal’s Richard Craver, HB 98 would prohibit local and state governments from “discriminating against individuals based on their refusal” to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or their refusal to be vaccinated.

It would also prohibit them from requiring vaccinations as a condition of employment.

People also read…

Why this bill? And why now?

Most worryingly, the bill would ban it public health authorities and prevent officials from vaccinating employees. Color us skeptical.

But first, a word from our sponsors…

Hardister, the Whitsett-based House Majority Whip, says he took a dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine in 2021 “which was voluntary”.

“I haven’t had any subsequent boosters or vaccines, which was my choice,” Hardister said in a recent email to Greensboro News & Record. “At this stage it is unlikely that I will take another COVID vaccine, but if I do it should be a personal decision not triggered by a government mandate.”

Lambeth, a former hospital director, says he is fully vaccinated but respects others’ rights not to be.

To be clear, no public health policy or scientific finding is beyond doubt or blame.

Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University, agrees.

“No major government initiative should ever be beyond the reach of oversight,” Nuzzo told Axios of Republicans’ moves to challenge Washington’s pandemic policy. “However, there are avenues that are productive and lead to positive change… and then there are avenues that not only undermine health and safety related to COVID, but sow doubt about all vaccines.”

A state law based on scant research seems premature at best. Then there is the question of the practical implications of this legislation.

What would it mean if police officers, and especially public health workers whose work involves regular contact with the public, did not have to be vaccinated?

This very problem surfaced in 2021 with some police officers and firefighters in Winston-Salem and Cone Health resisting compulsory vaccination.

But shouldn’t some such requirements come with the territory? And isn’t it just about what’s good for the individual, but what’s good for the community?

Then there’s the fact that HB 98 only targets COVID. K-12 public school mandates for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, red measles and rubella would not be affected.

Hardister says COVID vaccines are different because they’ve been “accelerated”.

The COVID vaccines was accelerated at the behest of President Donald Trump to address a national health emergency.

But as Rep. Maria Cervania, a Wake County Democrat and epidemiologist, noted, the COVID vaccines were based on existing research.

On the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, Dr. Gabor David Kelen and Lisa Maragakis point out that “Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were manufactured using a method that has been in development for years, allowing the companies to start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic .”

What we really need now is an informed discussion about a way forward that respects both individual rights and the common good – which it is not.

If only someone could develop a drug that would immunize public health policy from politics.

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