Bill to prohibit employers from mandating vaccinations and masks is heard in committee

The Michigan House Committee on Workforce, Trades, and Talent held a committee hearing last week on House Bill 4471, which would prohibit employers  — including hospitals and health systems — from mandating vaccines or masks in the workplace. 

 

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The prohibition would include the COVID-19 vaccine, the influenza vaccine, and the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine.

Adam Carlson, vice president of advocacy at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), says MHA opposes the bill because it impedes hospital operations. 

“Hospitals have a moral and legal obligation to protect their patients, protect their workforce, maintain their capacity to care for individuals in their communities, and ensure that they have a functioning health care system. Hospitals need to have the freedom and latitude to make the decisions they feel best to achieve those goals.”

Carlson says this bill is “especially egregious” in its prohibition and would go against prior research on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and mask wearing. 

“This legislation would ignore hundreds of years of infection control research and severely hinder the ability of hospitals to protect the health and wellness of their communities.”

According to Carlson, the arguments of proponents are not based in facts or science. 

Proponents of the bill say businesses should not control what employees put into their bodies. Rep. Beth Griffin, chair of the Committee On Workforce, Trades, and Talent, says many of her constituents are being harassed for their decision to not get vaccinated. 

“Real people that rely on their jobs to put food on their tables are being threatened, shamed, intimidated, and mocked for not agreeing to get an mRNA shot.”

Griffin says the media’s lack of COVID research coverage is leading to fear and one-sided reports from “conflicting media reports about guidance from politically motivated government agencies.”

“In order to get Michigan back to work and keep employees safe, Michigan businesses and families need access to good data, information about how to help employees get help if they are sick, access to recent development studies that say both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can pass along the virus, and new studies that help us understand how the COVID virus works or how medicine treatments work. Businesses are literally making professional decisions for their businesses based on one-sided, politically censored information.”

Carlson says that bills similar to this — concerning the flu vaccine — have been introduced, but this is the first one to receive a hearing. This hearing only heard testimony and didn’t receive a vote. The bill still sits in committee. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she will not sign this bill if it were to arrive on her desk, according to Carlson. Because of this, he does not expect the bill to become law. 

Here are some other organizations that oppose the bill:

  • The Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The Michigan State Medical Society
  • The Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • The Michigan Association of School Boards
  • The Michigan Bankers Association