Measures prohibit vaccine passports, reinstate fired workers, recognize natural immunity and right to choose
OLYMPIA – Bills that would protect individual rights amid government pressure for COVID-19 vaccinations were introduced Wednesday by Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, for consideration during the 2022 legislative session.
McCune’s ‘COVID Bill of Rights’ package includes a measure that establishes an individual right to choose vaccination. Other measures would prohibit vaccine passports and reinstate thousands of workers terminated or forced into early retirement by the governor’s vaccination decrees. Workers who have developed natural immunity following a bout of COVID could be exempted from vaccination requirements following a positive antibody test.
“COVID-19 is being used as an excuse to curtail individual rights and freedoms,” McCune said. “The ham-handed approach we have seen from the governor’s office has forced the firings and early retirements of thousands of public employees and health care workers, putting vital state services at risk. Now we are seeing vaccination cards being used for everything from admittance to public events to a condition for employment.
“If this was really about science, we would see some recognition of the natural immunity that develops following a bout of illness, when COVID antibodies are formed. Studies have demonstrated this natural immunity is longer-lasting than the protection offered by immunizations. Yet the governor’s immunization mandates make no exceptions.
“We must remember that we are a nation of laws, that our freedoms are guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions, and that these rights cannot be suspended for matters of administrative expediency. There is no right more fundamental than the choice to inject oneself with a vaccine. Even amid a health crisis, the rights of the individual must be protected.”
Measures included in the Bill of Rights package include –
Right to choose – Senate Bill 5682 – would establish that all Washington residents have the right to choose whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and would allow parents and legal guardians to obtain exemptions for schoolchildren subject to COVID vaccination requirements.
Reinstatement of fired workers – SB 5680 – would rescind gubernatorial proclamation 21-14, which required immunization for most state workers, school employees and health care workers. Employers affected by the proclamation would be required to offer reinstatement to any worker fired or forced into retirement.
Recognition of natural immunity – SB 5681 – would establish that a positive COVID-19 antibody test is sufficient to meet vaccination requirements. State and county-operated testing sites would have to offer COVID-19 antibody tests for workers whose employers require vaccination.
Prohibiting vaccine passports – SB 5683 – would prohibit government agencies from requiring proof of vaccination to access public places.