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State legislative committee votes against requiring COVID vaccines for kids in La. schools

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BATON ROUGE - A state legislative committee rejected adding COVID-19 vaccines to required immunizations for schools in Louisiana.

The vote came at the end of an emotional day where people against the vaccines spoke before lawmakers.

The House Health and Welfare vote Monday is likely to be overruled by the governor. 

Spokesperson for the Governor's office Christina Stephens released the following statement after the vote: 

"As the Governor said on Friday, he supports adding the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to the immunization schedule and, barring a recommendation from public health experts, his opinion would not change. Also, as LDH testified today in the hearing, the Department absolutely has the authority to add this vaccine to the immunization schedule, despite the misinformation presented today at the Legislature. This vaccine is safe, it is effective and it is easily accessible across the state. Louisiana has some of the broadest opt-outs for parents who do not want to vaccinate their children, including health, religious and philosophical reasons. None of that will change when this vaccine is added to the immunization schedule."

After the meeting, Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a statement applauding the rejection of the vaccine requirement.

"These types of policies should be decided by the people through their representatives not by medical czars or by executive fiat. I challenge the Governor to accept the will of the people," Landry said.

Watch WBRZ News 2 newscasts Monday for details about the committee meeting. 

The vote was 13 to 2, including all Republican members of the state committee and some Democrats.

Voted to oppose the rule (13)

-Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall

-Roy Daryl Adams, No Party-Jackson

-Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches

-Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City

-Michael Echols, R-Monroe

-Julie Emerson, R-Carenco

-C. Travis Johnson, D-Vidalia

-Ed Larvadain, D-Alexandria

-Wayne McMahen, R-Minden

-Bob Owen, R-Slidell

-Thomas Pressley, R-Shreveport

-Joe Stagni, R-Kenner

-Christopher Turner, R-Ruston

Voted to support the rule (2)

-Robby Carter, D-Amite

-Rep. Dustin Miller, D-Opelousas

“This mandate leaves Louisiana in an embarrassing state. Taking the authority to decide on a child’s health away from the parents is not a requirement that LDH can make," sate Sen. Cameron Henry said.

The vaccine rule would be for students among the ages which have received full licensure and approval from the FDA, which currently is ages 16 and up. 

“Today’s committee meeting is important because we are talking about a parent’s right to make health decisions for their children moving forward, and I think LDH has overstepped their boundaries with this mandate," House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said. 

Louisiana law allows parents to easily exempt their child from a vaccine on the Immunization Schedule by simply claiming a medical, religious or personal/philosophical exemption. If COVID-19 is added to the schedule parents will be easily able to exempt their children from this vaccine as well, state health leaders said.

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