Despite the CDC adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of recommended vaccines for public school attendance, Arizona’s Republican lawmakers said that the state won’t be mandating it.
That’s because the state enacted several bills earlier this year precluding such mandates: HB2498, which prohibits any government entities in the state from mandating the COVID vaccine (exempting health care institutions), and HB2086, which further prohibits mandates for the COVID vaccine as well as the human papillomavirus in order to attend school.
The CDC announced last Thursday that it would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of childhood and adult immunization schedules next year.
The State Senate Majority issued a statement on Monday asserting that HB2086 protected parental rights against an “out of touch” federal government and its agencies. Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) said that Republican leadership enabled these protections, implying that a state legislature flip would result in a nanny state.
“Injecting something into our bodies is a very personal choice and is one that families should have complete control over,” said Fann. “Senate Republicans believe parents ultimately have the right to make medical decisions for their child, and we will not take away that freedom.”
ADHS and Democratic legislators opposed both bills. During committee discussion of HB2086, State Representative Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) claimed that fears of COVID-19 vaccine injuries were political. Hernandez said that it would be right to reject a prohibition of a vaccine mandate.
Parents have the ability to seek out medical, religious, and personal exemptions for mandatory vaccines. During committee discussion of HB2086, State Representative Beverly Pingerelli (R-Peoria) shared that constituents described the exemption process as “extremely difficult” and “time consuming.” Former ADHS director Will Humble rejected that characterization in response, but admitted that he made the exemption process more difficult than it had been in the past.
Unlike the state legislature’s slim majority, Arizona’s agencies appear to be falling in line with federal agencies. Carla Berg, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) deputy director, published a memo earlier this month encouraging parents to vaccinate children five and up.
ADHS often aligns itself with CDC and FDA messaging on public health issues. Earlier this summer, ADHS memos about monkeypox echoed similar, controversial memos issued by the federal government, such as a general avoidance on the specifics of the disease’s spread and its predominance among sexually active gay men.
The overwhelming majority of people are done with COVID restrictions. Just look at the reaction when mask mandates were put to an end on airplanes last month. Cheering. Celebration. Throwing masks away. There’s nothing surprising about this—unless of course you’re a member of the liberal media.
With a desire to tackle COVID overreach head on, our own state lawmakers got to work last year. And through a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills, they took important steps to protect Arizonans from more COVID mandates.
But then in November, some of the protections were thrown out in court on procedural grounds. Thankfully, the Arizona legislature didn’t ignore the problem and got back to work this year. Now, they have passed several significant bills that are officially signed into law to protect against future COVID and government overreach…
The House Government and Elections Committee passed two bills prohibiting government entities from requiring masks or COVID-19 vaccines. The first bill, HB2498, prohibits governments from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for any Arizonan; The second bill, HB2453, would eliminate all governmental authority to require masks or face coverings on their premises, with an exception carved out for areas with workplace safety and infection control measures unrelated to COVID-19. For both bills, “government entities” are defined as those who receive and use tax revenues.
Both bills were introduced by Queen Creek Republicans: State Representatives Jake Hoffman and Neal Carter, respectively. HB2498 passed 7-5 along party lines, with State Representative Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) abstaining her vote. HB2453 passed more narrowly, 7-6 along party lines.
State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) argued during Wednesday’s committee that the vaccine prevents individuals from spreading COVID-19; Hoffman, the vice chairman, rebutted that simply wasn’t the case. Liguori argued, based on a definition from ushistory.org, that governments provide everyday behavior parameters, well-being, and happiness for citizens. Hoffman responded that the definition wasn’t at all aligned with the U.S. Constitution.
“I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass what ushistory.org says,” said Hoffman. “We exist to protect the rights of our citizens. One of their own rights is to choose their own bodily decisions. It’s their right to choose whether or not a vaccine is injected into them.”
A male legislator chimed in to say Hoffman’s argument aligned with pro-abortion arguments; Hoffman rebutted that wasn’t true because a baby’s life was at stake.
Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) insisted that the fact that vaccines don’t prevent individuals from catching or spreading COVID-19 was “unfounded.” He then characterized the bill as an overreach preventing individuals from obtaining the protections of a vaccine, though he didn’t clarify how this bill had any bearing on individuals choosing to get vaccinated voluntarily.
“If we have the ability to have a vaccine that would prevent individuals from becoming severely ill or losing their life, we should not be standing in the way of that. I believe this bill is an additional overreach,” said Bolding.
Hoffman reiterated that the American system of government doesn’t have a right to force its citizens to take a vaccine they don’t want to have.
“Our overture to the world on what sets this people apart from everywhere else: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” said Hoffman. “The choice of the governed. It is not in the American system that a government can tell them what to do, can force them to take a vaccine.”
As AZ Free News reported, Carter asserted that his bill, HB2453, would curb further exacerbations of the current hiring and employee shortages in addition to respecting the right of individuals to make their own health decisions.
During the committee meeting, Bolding called the bill “misplaced policy” by not allowing local governments to protect their citizens by requiring masks. State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) responded that he feels bad that any individual would die from an infectious disease, but it saddened him greatly too that a whole society allowed the government to assume complete control over their lives.
“I was appalled that the churches did not rise in opposition when [the government] said that people could not go and pray to the gods of their choice and live out their lives, like they did during the Revolutionary War which sparked freedom in America the way that it did,” said Fillmore.
Liguori insisted that “the science” proved mask wearing prevented spread of COVID-19, and that masks weren’t a partisan issue.