By Rep. RICK WEST
I’ve received many calls and emails asking about COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. I wanted to reassure my constituents that neither are in sight here in Oklahoma.
The Legislature this year passed a bill, and the governor signed it into law, prohibiting any Oklahoma public school, college or university from requiring vaccines in order for students to attend. The bill also stipulates masks cannot be required unless the governor has declared a state of emergency and the local school board votes to impose mask mandates. House Bill 2335 also disallows discrimination and penalties against someone who declines vaccination or who declines to vaccinate their children.
The governor this week said he is not considering declaring a new state of emergency.
People should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to receive a vaccine or if they want to vaccinate their children for COVID-19. If they have questions or concerns, they should consult with their health care professional. The government has no place mandating such a thing. In fact, I and many other lawmakers recently signed onto a letter to the governor asking him to draft an executive order prohibiting health care facilities and medical schools and programs from requiring vaccines for their thousands of employees or students. These health care employees and future nurses and doctors are our heroes. They, too, should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to take a vaccine. We must protect an individual’s right to choose what goes into their body. This is just a basic tenet of a free society.
Even in the far-left state of Oregon, employees such as health care providers, health care facility employees, clinical lab employees, law enforcement, and firefighters are protected by a 1989 state law that says “A worker shall not be required as a condition of work to be immunized” unless otherwise required by federal or state law.
I hope this clears things up for people.
Even though we are in interim, I still have a fulltime legislative assistant available to help with any issues that arise. If I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at email@example.com.