Should ‘natural immunity’ count for one’s vaccination status in Utah?
Should ‘natural immunity’ count for one’s vaccination status in Utah?

Should ‘natural immunity’ count for one’s vaccination status in Utah?

Utah lawmakers continue to move forward with legislation to strengthen their stance as opposed to vaccine mandates and allow “natural immunity” from a previous COVID-19 infection to count as vaccination in cases where mandates are in place.

The House’s Business and Work Committee approved HB63 Tuesday, which would require employers to exempt an employee from a vaccine claim if they submit a message from a primary provider stating that they were previously infected with COVID-19. It also prohibits employers from keeping records of employees’ COVID-19 test results.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jefferson Burton, R-Salem, said the bill is very similar to SB2004 – which was passed during a special session last year – but his purpose is to “correctly place this statute under the employment code,” rather than the health code in state law.

“It was thought that this was necessary based on changed circumstances when the Senate bill of 2004 was written. The landscape was completely different than it is now,” Burton said, referring in part to the omicron variant of coronavirus, which has caused a high number of breakthrough infections among vaccinated persons.

At a news conference Wednesday, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, was asked if he sees the bill as part of a tendency for lawmakers to try to legislate how companies respond to the pandemic.

“The trend, as I have seen, is a little different than that,” he said, adding that he sees the legislation as a push back towards mandates.

Adams underlined Utah’s declining numbers of COVID-19 cases and admissions.

“As we see, we are obviously asking for snow, of course, and we are praying that this virus will go away,” Adams said. “When we hopefully see the virus subside, the need for this type of legislation can also be reduced.”

Senate Majority Leader Whip Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, said he believes the bill’s sponsors are trying to find a “balancing act” between protecting the rights of individuals and corporate rights.

Asked whether the government should be able to tell companies what they can and cannot do, Adams said it will be an “interesting debate” in the Legislative Assembly as the bill moves forward.

Earlier in the hearing, the committee tabled a bill by Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, it would ban vaccine mandates of private companies or public entities. Burton acknowledged that some provisions in his bill would be unnecessary given the bans in Brooks’ bill, but said he still thinks it is important to establish natural immunity as valid.

Burton said the Utah Department of Health would not say that being infected provided equal or superior immunity compared to vaccination, but said “the argument has been that based on what we’ve seen in the last few months, vaccination held up. not you from getting () the omicron variant, and having the disease in the past prevented you from getting the omicron variant. “

That Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination as the safest and most effective way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. ONE January report showed previous infection during the delta wave of the virus provided a certain level of protection.

HB63 was recommended by 9-1 vote and will be sent to Parliament for consideration.

Contributor: Ashley Imlay

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