To combat rising COVID-19 Delta cases nationwide, several states (and the federal government) are bringing back mask mandates and implementing vaccine mandates.
Many other states, however, are moving in the opposite direction—passing laws discouraging vaccination and the use of masks.
Anti-vaccine legislation has been on the rise in state legislatures:
- 2019: 116 anti-vaccine bills presented, 2 signed into law
- 2020: 186 anti-vaccine bills presented, 1 signed into law
- 2021: 380 anti-vaccine bills presented, 27 so far signed into law
Three main categories include:
- Banning the mandating of vaccination by employers and government service providers (118 bills introduced, 7 enacted)
- Banning schools from mandating masks and/or proof of vaccination (63 bills introduced, 15 enacted)
- Banning vaccine passports from being mandated to attend major sporting and entertainment events as well as to travel into a state (33 bills introduced, 14 enacted)
Such bills have been enacted in 16 states: Alabama (SB 267), Arkansas (HB 1547, SB 615), Arizona (SB 615, SB 1824, H 2898, HB 2897/SB 1878), Florida (SB 2006), Iowa (HF 889), Indiana (HB 1405), Kansas (SB 159), Missouri (SB 271), Montana (HB 702), New Hampshire (HB 220), North Dakota (HB 1465, SCR 4016), Ohio (HB 244), Oklahoma (SB 658), Tennessee (HB 13/SB 187, HB 575/SB 858), Texas (SB 968), and Utah (HB 308).
Additional bills are pending signature in four states: Michigan (HB 4410), Missouri (SB 403), Ohio (SB 111), Texas (HB 4272).
What the biotech industry says about vaccine hesitancy
“We’ve dealt with vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine sentiments for years, but suspicion and outright hostility towards vaccines have really taken hold in certain segments of society this year due to the rapid spread of misinformation through social media and the availability of vaccines for COVID,” said Patrick Plues, VP for State Government Affairs at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). “Vaccines have become politicized to the point where support or opposition to immunization policy has become a litmus test for political affiliations.”
A recent episode of the I AM BIO Podcast features BIO Vice President for Infectious Diseases and Diagnostics Policy, Phyllis Arthur, discussing misinformation and disinformation around COVID-19 vaccines and how to fight back against it.