A worker sprays a forklift at an Elkhart factory in accordance with the company’s COVID-19 safety standards.
Justin Hicks / IPB News
A bill giving Hoosier workers the right to refuse employer-prescribed vaccines was passed in a committee Wednesday morning. It would go further than current federal law and excuse workers based on their conscience.
Currently, federal laws allow employers to have mandatory vaccination guidelines, but workers can opt out if they have a medical disability or are genuinely religious. However, if an employer determines that this poses a threat to others, they can “lock” that employee from the job.
Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), author of the bill, said it went a step further and exempted employees from vaccination based on personal choice.
“The word” conscience “is the essence of the bill,” said Sen. Kruse. “That is the additional part that is not in the existing law.”
Many testified in support of the law, arguing that it would protect their personal freedoms and civil rights.
“God gave me free will and I have no intention of anyone taking it away from me,” said Ashely Grogg, a health care worker who testified on behalf of Hoosiers for Medical Liberty.
READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here’s what you need to know:
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Corporate groups, including the Indiana Chamber and an Indiana University researcher, said they were violating workplace safety laws and could cause easily preventable disease outbreaks in the future.
Other opposition leaders, like Patrick Glew of the Indiana Immunization Coalition, expressed concern that the language goes well beyond COVID-19 vaccinations and would help people avoid more frequent vaccines.
“We’re very concerned about this bill,” said Glew. “Our main concern is that it applies to all vaccines in all contexts.”
The committee did not vote on the bill or the amendments proposed by Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) to remove the word “conscience”.
Contact reporter Justin at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.