House bills would limit the requirements for COVID-19 vaccination | News
House bills would limit the requirements for COVID-19 vaccination |  News

House bills would limit the requirements for COVID-19 vaccination | News

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri House on Monday gave first-round approval to two bills that would limit the requirements for COVID-19 vaccination.

Rep. Bill Hardwick, R-Waynesville, is sponsoring House Bill 1686. The bill would prohibit some public employers, including schools, from requiring staff or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Public hospitals will be required to grant exemptions in certain cases.

School districts would not be able to require students or staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but Hardwick said other vaccination requirements would remain intact.

Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, said the state should follow federal guidelines for exceptions.

Hospitals and other medical institutions would not be able to require an employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if they had a religious or medical exemption, or if there was an available alternative to ensure reasonable safety.

Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, said the bill “meets the needs of both sides” and helps ensure the rights of both employers and employees to do what they believe is best.

The second bill, House Bill 2358, is sponsored by Rep. David Evans, R-West Plains. The bill would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee requesting a religious exemption from a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

The adjustments would be required in the absence of evidence clearly indicating an unnecessary burden.

The bill also stipulates that employee compensation must be paid in the event that an employee who is to receive a COVID-19 vaccination incurs an injury as a result of the vaccine.

Major business groups, such as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have opposed the bills, declaring that they oppose all vaccine mandates that either require or ban shots.

About 55.7% of Missouri residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Another vote is needed to send the bills to the Senate.

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