Arizona Interim Legislative Committee discusses vaccine mandates and informed consent


Hannah Saunders


Last week, the Arizona Legislature’s Novel Coronavirus Southwestern Intergovernmental Committee met to discuss vaccine mandates, the importance of informed consent, and the need for a Vaccine Confidence Bill.

Aaron Siri, an attorney at Siri & Glimstad, said the idea of informed consent developed from historical human atrocities, including experimental treatment.

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“It means that you have the right—the ability—to consent or not consent. Consent’s really the critical word, and in informed consent, you’re provided information by the doctor, the medical professional, yourself—you do your own research—and then you choose whether or not you want to consent,” Siri said. 

Siri suggested individuals ask themselves six questions prior to seeking vaccination. These questions include: does the manufacturer stand behind the product? Was the clinical trial proven to be safe? What was the duration and safety review of the clinical trial?

Committee Chair Sen. Janae Shamp (R – Maricopa) who has a background as a nurse, noted that informed consent is ingrained in medical professionals.

“Everything needs to be explained because you have that right to make that decision, and for some reason, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not allowed to have that kind of informed consent because we were mandated, and we can never allow that to happen again.”

— Shamp

Committee members shared concerns about the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not adequately informing the public about safety issues and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, including the risk of stroke. 

Sen. Steve Montenegro (R – Maricopa) said having an oversight committee for independent evaluation is crucial if another vaccine mandate is implemented in the future. When it comes to vaccine mandates in the state, Arizona will provide exemptions for medical, religious, or personal beliefs. 

During the meeting, Siri promoted a bill proposal that would move medical exemption decisions away from the government and towards medical professionals and their patients, so that the decision is based on clinical judgment between an individual and their provider. Siri said this bill has not passed anywhere in the country, and that the proposal is still being worked on.

“The reasons that this bill should increase vaccine confidence is that what it provides is that there should always be an exemption available to any mandate, if there isn’t a vaccine that meets certain, very minimal criteria,” Siri said. “This way, the elected representatives in every state can assure their constituents, ‘Look, we’re putting our money where our mouth is—don’t worry—every vaccine that you’re mandated to get, you’ll never be in a position where you can’t say no if there is a vaccine that doesn’t meet four minimal requirements.’”

These requirements are:

  • The clinical trial the Food and Drug Administration relied on to approve the vaccine evaluated safety for a minimum of one year following the administration of the vaccine against a control group that only received a placebo or a different vaccine
  • The FDA posts injuries and diseases caused by the vaccine on its website, and the rate at which injury and disease have occurred from the vaccine, if at all
  • The risk of permanent disability or death is proven to be less than that caused by the infection the vaccine is intended to prevent
  • The vaccine manufacturer has liability for deaths and serious injuries caused by the vaccine

Montenegro’s focus is on ensuring that the public has full transparency from individuals in positions of power to make informed consent about vaccines for future pandemics. The committee will reconvene on this subject matter in early December.