Republicans Revive Anti-Vaccine Legislation in Kansas

Conservative Republican legislators Thursday revived proposals to weaken Kansas’ vaccination requirements for children enrolled in schools and daycares, and make it easier for people to get treatment for potentially harmful COVID-19.

The Kansas Senate health committee approved a bill that would allow parents to get exemptions based on religious belief without question from having their children vaccinated against more than a dozen illnesses, including measles, whooping cough, polio and chickenpox.

The legislation would also limit pharmacists’ ability to refuse to prescribe the prescribed deworming ivermectin and other drugs used to treat COVID-19.

This legislation will be submitted to the plenary session of the Senate for discussion. Majority Republicans will also consider proposals to severely limit the powers of Kansas state public health administrators dealing with infectious diseases and others to ban all mandatory mask wearing in a future pandemic.

The legislation passed Thursday would require schools to grant exemptions for parents who claim vaccination violates their religious beliefs or moral and ethical beliefs they hold dear without needing to investigate those beliefs.

Kansas state Senator Mark Steffen of Hutchinson, during a U.S. Senate health committee discussion, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Topeka, Kansas.  (AP/John Hanna)

Kansas state Senator Mark Steffen of Hutchinson, during a U.S. Senate health committee discussion, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Topeka, Kansas. (AP/John Hanna)

A law enacted last November provides broad and similar exemptions for workers who wish to circumvent the mandated COVID-19 vaccine. “This allows parents with preschool and school-age children to enjoy the same religious freedoms that others enjoy,” said Republican Senator Mark Steffen of Hutchinson.

But Senator Kristen O’Shea of ​​Topeka broke away from her Republican counterparts and opposed the legislation. He stated on Thursday (17/3) that the committee did not hold a hearing on the weakening of the mandatory vaccination of children.

In court earlier this month he said, “It’s really scary to think that we’re in a society that’s going to bring back measles and polio and whooping cough and stuff.” [uh/ab]