Lawmakers vote against LDH proposal to add COVID-19 shot to student vaccine schedule

Louisiana

UPDATE:

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The House Health and Welfare Committee has voted to find the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) rule to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students ages 16 and up unacceptable. The Senate will hold a similar vote before sending the rule to the governor.

The House Health and Welfare Committee decided in a 13-2 vote that they do not accept the LDH rule to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the student vaccine schedule. The hearing centered around questions about LDH’s authority over the rule and a lot of vaccine misinformation was shared.

In a packed hearing room, elected officials and concerned parents voiced their strong opposition to the Covid vaccine being added to the student schedule. Attorney General Jeff Landry suggested the Department of Health does not have this authority and they are going around the legislature.

“The legislative power of this state is vested with you all. The Louisiana constitution provides for a separation of powers among three branches of government and provides that none of these exercises the power of the other,” Landry said.

The department defended the authority under the Sanitary Code and said the process has been transparent. They also emphasized parents can opt their kids out of the vaccine with a written dissent, like with the rest of the vaccine schedule. 

“I can’t think of another disease on that childhood schedule that we have lost that many kids from so in my mind it’s very much in the public interest,” State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said. “I feel very strongly in parental choice and that it ultimately is the parent and family’s choice.”

Legislators brought up concerns about the rule that would allow schools to remove unvaccinated children from class if there is an outbreak.

“The intent is not to exclude unvaccinated students from school,” Dr. Kanter said.

Several presenters brought up misinformation about the vaccine and legislators talked about how they don’t trust the science and say it’s been rushed. One speaker included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is an anti-vaccine advocate. 

“It is really extraordinary the amount of myths that are out there. What really does give me concern is that some families do fall victim to that and there can be real consequences to that,” Dr. Kanter said.

Legislators implored the governor to consider how they believe the rule is violating state statute.


ORIGINAL:

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Health And Welfare Committee is gathering on Monday at the Louisiana State Capitol.

You can watch the meeting Health and Welfare Committee here.

The Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, Clay Schexnayder started the meeting off by emphasizing that “parents have rights.”

Schexnayder says, “The COVID-19 should not be added to schools. I am not an anti-vaccine person… vaccines prevent the disease… that is not what the Covid vaccine does.”

The Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives pointed out that federal courts are halting some of the Biden Administration’s mandates. Schexnayder urges the governor not to override the committee. The governor has already said he is in support of the vaccine being added to the schedule.

Attorney General Jeff Landry followed Clay Schexnayder by saying “The committee will determine if the change is acceptable or unacceptable.”

AG Landry ceded the rest of his time to Bobby Kennedy Jr. Kennedy, Jr. is a lawyer and son of Senator Robert F Kennedy.

The life-long Democrat spent his time before the committee presenting his point of view about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Representative Laurie Schlegel stepped to the microphone and stated her opposition to the mandate for her teen son. Schlegel has vaccinated herself and struggled with the decision to give the second dose to her son. Rep. Schlegel says she’d get the vaccine again since it helps reduce the severity.

The main order of business at the committee meeting is as follows: 

“In accordance with R.S. 49:968(D)(2), oversight hearing on the administrative rule proposed by the Louisiana Department of Health to amend the state immunization schedule provided for in LAC 51:II.701 to add COVID-19 vaccines to the list of vaccinations required for school and child day care entry.”

This meeting is taking place after Governor Edwards spoke on Friday about the possibility of requiring students in K-12 and higher education to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

When asked about backtracking on the addition of the Covid-19 vaccine to the immunization schedule for students in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards said, “I would have to learn something different then I’ve learned to date.”

Edwards followed by saying, “it is certainly my inclination that the vaccine will be added to the schedule that pertains to K-12 schools and higher ed.”

The Health And Welfare Committee meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in Room 5. 

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