The Tennessee Senate reamended a bill to strike an amendment allowing higher education to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Under the latest amended version of the bill, institutions of higher education may only mandate the vaccine for health care students. These public colleges or universities may enforce those mandates so long as they don’t own or control the health care facility.
Essentially, the higher education mandate would only be necessary for certain students involved in a private health care facility that requires the COVID-19 vaccine. The amendment would apply to students in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or any other health care profession.
Nonprofit social advocacy organization Tennessee Stands will rally in support of an amendment for vaccine religious exemptions on Wednesday. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will be reviewing the bill carrying the amendment that day, which seeks to prohibit government-mandated COVID-19 vaccines.
In an interview with The Tennessee Star, Tennessee Stands founder Gary Humble explained that this rally would allow Tennessee lawmakers to see the support this bill has among their constituents.
The House Health Subcommittee killed a bill allowing exemptions for vaccines based on religious or conscientious objections, especially during pandemics. Lawmakers voted against the bill, 7-3. Committee members that voted against the bill were State Representatives Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory), Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield), Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville), Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville), Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), and Robin Smith (R-Hixon); those for the bill were State Representatives Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon), Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro).
Opposition to the bill raised issue with the possibility of its public health impact, citing the risk posed by non-vaccinated individuals in areas such as schools, daycares, and restaurants. State Representative Jay D. Reedy (R-Erin) had proposed the bill in November initially, several weeks after the general election. Its companion bill was filed shortly after by State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), who didn’t respond for comment by press time.