TN lawmakers propose bill allowing religious exemptions to vaccines even during epidemics

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The bill, proposed by two Republican state lawmakers, would change state laws to allow people to refuse immunizations even during public health emergencies.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two Tennessee lawmakers are proposing drastic changes to Tennessee State Code that would prevent the state and its local leaders from enforcing any emergency health ordinances or resolutions that would mandate examinations, treatment or vaccines for anyone who objects on religious grounds or “right of conscience.”

Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) and Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) introduced their respective bills, House Bill 0010 and Senate Bill 0007, on Tuesday. East Tennessee Senator Frank Niceley (R- Strawberry Plains) co-sponsored the Senate bill.

The bills, if either is passed, would delete and change the language of various Tennessee Codes regarding school and work vaccination requirements, county health regulations, and other codes to prevent the state and local leaders from specifically requiring them during times of emergency brought on by disease epidemics — such as the COVID-19 epidemic/pandemic. 

State law already allows people to refuse certain public health requirements, such as school immunizations, for religious reasons. However, the code specifies that people can not claim these exemptions if the state is faced with an epidemic, because such exemptions could create …

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