Iowa lawmakers advance bill banning employer vaccine mandates, adding exemption

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 8:22 AM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - A bill that would prohibit employers from mandating vaccines for employees will advance in the Iowa statehouse.

That includes those working in health care.

The bill also creates a new exemption from required school immunizations, and prohibits discrimination based on someone’s vaccine status.

The Senate Human Resources subcommittee voted 2 to 1 along party lines to move the bill to a full committee tomorrow.

Under current law, employers are allowed to mandate vaccines for employees with some exceptions. During the hour-and-a-half debate, supporters called it an issue of personal choice.

“We have a child that is already vaccine-injured,” mother Emily Lewis said. “My husband should not have to choose between his job and keeping himself safe.”

Another supporter says people should not be strong-armed into doing what others think is best for everyone else, but those opposed to the bill say it’s irresponsible.

Iowa’s state epidemiologist Doctor Caitlin Pedati discussed a concern from public health officials.

“There’s good data to show that when you increase things like exemptions, people do take advantage of them,” Pedati said. “It creates pockets of under-vaccinated or unvaccinated populations, which can lead to the spread of infectious diseases like measles, which is exactly what we saw in 2019.”

The bill faces opposition from the Iowa Public Health Association, UnityPoint Health, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and the Iowa Retail Federation.

See the story on KCCI’s website.

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