Can your employer require you to get a vaccine? Right now, yes. But House Bill 1352 would prevent that from happening — unless the vaccine manufacturers can be held accountable for negative effects.
Vaccine manufacturers largely aren’t liable for the negative effects their shots may cause. Because of that, Rep. Jeff Hoverson doesn’t think anyone should be mandated to get one — and that’s the essence of his new bill.
“Who would want that if the manufacturers can’t even stand behind their product?” Hoverson said.
But there is recourse for those who’ve experienced adverse effects. They can submit a claim through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, although it rarely pays out, according to Kylie Hall. She works as a Project Coordinator at NDSU’s Center for Immunization Research and Education.
“For every one million vaccines administered, there’s typically one case that will be compensated out of this compensation program,” Hall said.
Hall says that number adds to overwhelming evidence that vaccines work.
“A lot of people will misconstrue this compensation program as proof that vaccines are not safe, but in reality, they show us how safe vaccines actually are,” Hall said.
A handful of people testified in support of the legislation, including a controversial figure who’s spread unsupported claims about COVID-19. Hoverson invited him to speak.
“We’re about to move into a space where there’s going to be forced or mandated vaccines upon adults.”
Department of Health Immunization Director Molly Howell says that’s not what’s happening.
“I’ve not heard of anyone planning to mandate COVID-19 vaccine, but no, I think the benefits of COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh any risks,” Howell said.
Howell opposes the bill and says vaccines are safe and the best way out of the pandemic.
Plus, she adds, North Dakota already has one of the most relaxed laws in the country for vaccine exemptions for students in public school.
“We’re one of only 15 states that still allow moral and philosophical exemptions. A parent just simply has to sign a form on our website saying they don’t want their child to be vaccinated.”
The House Industry, Business and Labor Committee heard testimony Tuesday morning but did not yet vote on whether to recommend the bill’s passage.