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Bill filed to ban state government from requiring COVID-19 vaccine

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

A group of Republican lawmakers filed a bill forcing universities to allow unvaccinated students to attend school in-person this fall.


The bill would ban government agencies and recipients of more than $10 million in state funding from requiring people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.


It’s primary sponsor, State Rep. Rich Collins (R-Millsboro) says the goal is to ensure freedom, and avoid singling out folks who can’t get the vaccine because of medical or religious exemptions.


“If you have taken the vaccine, you have almost no risk whatsoever you [sic] could get the virus,” Collins said. “There is no reason that you need to take the freedom of someone else away who doesn’t want to take it because you are absolutely protected.”


Collins says he hasn’t gotten the vaccine because he believes he’s already built up natural immunity from contracting the virus previously. The Delaware Division of Public Health recommends individuals who already got sick from COVID-19 still get the vaccine, to protect themselves against future infections.


Collins says his legislation is in part targeting Delaware’s public universities, who will require students be vaccinated prior to returning this fall. But both UD and DSU already provide exemptions for medical or religious grounds.


Collins believes some Delawareans are still wary of the vaccine.


“You know these are still experimental certifications which simply means that the FDA is not absolutely certain of what the long-term aspects are,” he said.


In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines are not experimental at all. According to the FDA, the vaccines have beenrigorously tested and held to the same high standards as a traditional approval.


And some vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna and Pfizer have  already applied for full FDA approval.


Collins adds his bill will sunset in a year, meaning if his concerns are proven wrong, state agencies can go on to mandate the vaccine.


The bill faces an uphill battle, requiring support from at least some Democrats to pass. None have signed on as co-sponsors yet.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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