Talking Points to Support Legislation to Prevent Discrimination and Segregation Over Vaccination and Immunity Status – AB309/SB336 

Updated: 5/27/21

It is vital for AB309/SB336 to become law in Wisconsin. This will ensure that law abiding healthy citizens are not prevented from working or participating in society. AB309/SB336 is a comprehensive bill that would prevent discrimination of any kind against persons who have chosen not to receive one or more vaccines.

The talk of vaccine passports for individuals to be permitted to participate in society are in development. Some states such as New York have already introduced a vaccine pass which would give COVID-19 vaccinated individuals special privileges. States like Oregon are demanding that businesses and places of worship check proof of vaccination status before permitting entry to people who are not wearing masks. Signs are appearing at Wisconsin businesses stating that unvaccinated people must wear masks to enter the premises. Once vaccine passports are permitted for one vaccine, it will be easy to add requirements for additional vaccines, including passports for current vaccines and even for future vaccines currently under development. While COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been the focus in recent months, it is important that protections are in place to ensure that individuals will not be discriminated against for declining any vaccine product. There are currently 20 different vaccines targeting viral and bacterial illnesses (not including the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2) on the CDC’s recommended adult vaccine schedule. These are all candidates for employers, businesses, and even insurance companies to require given the lack of current protection from such mandates.

There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will have any effect in terms of protecting people from getting the virus and spreading it. Vaccinated people are still being told to wear a mask and stay 6-feet apart from people because there is no evidence that the vaccine is capable of stopping the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Like COVID-19 vaccines, vaccines targeting pertussis, meningococcal, and other bacteria and viruses do not stop transmission, but rather, may offer only personal protection for a period of time. This means that while both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals could potentially be contagious, only unvaccinated individuals will be discriminated against, and prevented from equal access to education, services, employment and more.

Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable, and yet discrimination, bullying and shaming of persons who have chosen to forgo one of more vaccinations is becoming acceptable by many in the media, public health, and academia. There have been media stories calling for the addresses of unvaccinated families to be made public in order to target and shame them. Articles have included language encouraging people to “Shame and Shun “anti-vaccine” parents or asking that they be jailed if they choose not to fully vaccinate their children. Medical professionals are refusing to treat the children of parents who decide to decline, delay, or selectively vaccinate. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that it is an “acceptable option for pediatric care clinicians to dismiss families who refuse vaccines.” Anyone who questions the safety or effectiveness of a vaccine is labeled “anti-vaccine” and quickly becomes a target of bullying, shaming and discrimination.

While vaccine exemptions for medical, religious, or personal reasons are available to daycare, and K to 12 students (Chapter 252.04), and during a declared State of Emergency (Chapter 252.041), protections to prevent discrimination on the basis of a person’s vaccine status are lacking in Wisconsin. There are no employment protections, or protections to ensure access to housing, medical care, higher education, life or health insurance for persons who have chosen not to receive one or more vaccines in Wisconsin law.

There are currently no state or federal exceptions to protect employees from vaccine mandates for any of the existing vaccines recommended by the CDC for reasons of conscience objections or otherwise. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission affirms the legal right of an employer to exclude the employee from the workplace even if an employee cannot get vaccinated for COVID-19 or another vaccine because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief and there is no reasonable accommodation possible. The state will have to step in and protect employees’ right to delay or refuse vaccines. While the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allows employees to decline Hepatitis B Vaccines, and OSHA and many labor unions have expressed opposition to annual influenza vaccination policies that do not include religious and/or personal objection exemptions, there are far too many gaps in protection for employees to refuse vaccines for work. AB309/SB336 would ensure protection for all workers.

Individuals and parents may choose to exempt themselves or their children from vaccination for a number of reasons, which may include a previous serious reaction, vaccine injury of a loved one, or because they believe that the risk of harm outweighs any perceived benefit. They should not be banned from employment or participating in society for choosing not to receive a liability free pharmaceutical product.

All vaccines carry the risk of injury or death so there has to be informed consent and the right to refuse any vaccine without penalty. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has already paid out over $4.5 billion in damages. AB309/SB336 will ensure that individuals and families who have already been victims of vaccine injury are not unjustly discriminated against for declining to risk their life or health by receiving another vaccine product. People injured by a COVID-19 vaccine have little recourse. Vaccine manufacturers and providers are shielded from liability through the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, or PREP Act. This federal law establishes that the only option for compensation for COVID-19 vaccine victims is the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). Only eight percent of all petitioners since 2010 have been awarded compensation through the CICP. No legal or medical expert fees are covered, no pain and suffering is awarded, lost wages are capped at $50,000, and there is no judicial appeal. The fact that vaccine injuries and deaths related to vaccines are real, and persons who take them can potentially be harmed, vaccination must always be voluntary.