Panel advances bill prohibiting vaccination discrimination

Rep. Kathy Edmonston and witness Christopher Alexander testified to a House committee about her bill to ban discrimination over vaccination status. (Photo by Piper Hutchinson/LSU Manship School News Service)

BATON ROUGE — The House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure advanced a bill Monday that would prohibit discrimination over vaccination or immunity status.

House Bill 252, sponsored by state Rep. Kathy Edmonston, R-Gonzales, would amend several existing discrimination statutes, adding vaccination or immunity status as a protected class.

In most statutes, protected classes include race, sex, color, national origin, age, disability as well as occasionally marital status, economic status, family status and creed.

Edmonston’s bill originally applied to all discrimination statutes, including those related to employment, education, lending, health care and insurance. It was amended in committee to not apply to discrimination in housing rental and sales.

The bill passed 9-4 with all of the Republicans in favor and four of the committee’s six Democrats opposed.

“Discrimination, as we all know, is not a Louisiana value,” Edmonston said. “It has a negative effect on our economy and our people young and old. They'll be looking elsewhere for jobs, leaving our state. They believe in equal access for all under the law.”

“We believe whether to vaccinate or not should be a personal choice,” Edmonston, who has publicly questioned the safety and efficacy of vaccines, said. “And those who choose to depend on their natural immunity should not be coerced, manipulated, threatened with job loss, experience financial hardship or be shamed into receiving a vaccination.”

While the bill applies to all vaccines, most of the discussion centered around COVID-19 vaccines.