Republican Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee weighed in on the COVID vaccine mandate debate on Thursday after an advisory group recommended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) add the shot to the vaccine schedule.
On Thursday, every member of the panel voted to have the vaccine included in the vaccine schedule, and the CDC now has the final say in whether the shot is added. States and local governments are in charge of making decisions and regulations regarding what vaccines kids need to get in order to attend school.
Governor Lee tweeted about his approach to vaccine mandates, stating, “I’ve always said mandates are the wrong approach, & TN has led in pushing back on federal covid vaccine requirements.”
“Thanks to our work with the General Assembly, TN families won’t be impacted by today’s CDC vote. We’ll continue to stand for TN children & for personal freedom,” he added.
I’ve always said mandates are the wrong approach, & TN has led in pushing back on federal covid vaccine requirements.
Thanks to our work with the General Assembly, TN families won’t be impacted by today’s CDC vote. We'll continue to stand for TN children & for personal freedom.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) October 20, 2022
In November of 2021, Lee signed House Bill 9077/Senate Bill 9014 (SB 9014) into law, banning governmental entities, schools, and local education agencies from mandating that someone get a COVID vaccine. It also does not allow such groups to require a private business or school to mandate “proof of vaccination as a condition to access the private business’s or school’s premises or facilities or to receive the benefits of the private business’s or school’s products or services.”
Private businesses, schools, governmental bodies, and local education groups are also not allowed to force someone to show proof of vaccination.
Leading up to and following the CDC panel’s unanimous decision to recommend the vaccine for the schedule, there was significant pushback and questions from those concerned about the decision.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson tweeted, “The CDC is about to add the Covid vaccine to the childhood immunization schedule, which would make the vax mandatory for kids to attend school.”
The CDC replied, “States establish vaccine requirements for school children, not ACIP or CDC.”
Carlson noted on his show, “More than a dozen states follow the CDC’s immunization schedule to set vaccination requirements for children to be educated,” adding, “The point is, the CDC sets the standard, and then it becomes required across the country.”
Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey also discussed the news on Twitter, saying “Here in Alabama, the parents make decisions when it comes to their children’s health care. We do NOT mandate the covid shot for kids – nor will we ever.”
Here in Alabama, the parents make decisions when it comes to their children’s health care. We do NOT mandate the covid shot for kids – nor will we ever. #alpolitics
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) October 20, 2022
The Alabama Department of Public Health pointed out that there are no state requirements for kids to get the COVID vaccine.
“The ACIP’s vote to include COVID-19 in VFC is the mechanism to ensure that, when COVID-19 vaccine is no longer provided free by the federal government, uninsured and underinsured children can have access to the vaccine without charge. Including COVID-19 vaccine under VFC is not a mandate for children to take the vaccine,” the agency noted.
“VFC is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated due to inability to pay,” ADPH’s statement continued. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) buys vaccine at a discounted rate for distribution to registered VFC providers. Many physicians in Alabama are VFC providers so that their patients can receive recommended vaccines. Children who are eligible for VFC vaccines are entitled to receive the same ACIP recommended vaccines as any other child.”