SB8 passed favorably out of the House Health & Family Services Committee on March 4. That same day, four floor amendments were filed. The bill has had two readings and the next step is a vote by the full House, which could come on March 11 or 12. Keep reading below for information on these four amendments and why we oppose each of them.
You can see all the amendments here.
Oppose Floor Amendments 1, 2, 3, and 4
Here is a summary of the four floor amendments and why we oppose them all.
Amendment 1- Rep. Willner – OPPOSE
This amendment significantly changes the bill so that children cannot be exempted by their parents on religious grounds or conscientiously held beliefs for any potential future vaccine mandated by the state. As we know, Kentucky children can already be exempted from vaccination requirements to attend daycare or K-12 schools, and it is absolutely abhorrent to suggest that parents of those same children could not at the same time be exempt them from a state mandated vaccine due to an epidemic. This makes absolutely no sense at all.
Amendment 2 – Willner – OPPOSE
This amendment defines “health care provider” as “medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, or a pharmacist who is licensed in Kentucky” for purposes of medical exemptions, which impacts current medical exemptions for school and daycare, as well as the medical exemptions created by this bill for a potential state mandated vaccine for all persons due to an epidemic.
First, there have already been multiple interpretations of the language in this amendment. Does it mean that all the listed providers must be licensed in Kentucky, or does it mean only the pharmacists must be licensed in Kentucky?
Next, the current process for medical exemptions for school or daycare are notated by a signature on form EPID 230, the Kentucky Certificate of Immunization Status. This form already has stipulations for who is authorized to sign it.
More importantly, it is common for children and adults with complex medical needs to see out of state providers for specialized care. It may well be the case that this provider, who understands the complexities of the individual, is the one who determines that the individual is not a candidate for vaccination. This amendment limits the ability of medical exemptions to be granted to only Kentucky licensed providers. This is not in the best interest of compromised individuals, and it would invalidate some existing medical exemptions for children with regard to K-12 and daycare.
Also, Kentucky has many border states. There are many Kentuckians who see a provider in another state on a regular basis, even without complex medical needs. Those providers may or may not also be licensed in Kentucky.
Amendment 3 – Marzian – Oppose
As was stated in committee, the intent of this amendment is friendly, but unfortunately it was drafted in a way that makes it not applicable to SB8. Although the need for SB8 was brought about by the COVID pandemic, this is not a COVID specific bill. The amendment reads: “The form shall include information on the symptoms and health risks of diseases, including the coronavirus, for which the immunization exemption is submitted.”
This bill would apply to any vaccine mandated in the future for any epidemic. If in 10 years there is a new disease and the state mandates a vaccine for all citizens, this amendment would require the exemption form to also include information on coronavirus, which may be eradicated by then. Not to mention, there are many different types of coronavirus.
In looking at the form already created by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for use specifically in daycare and K-12 exemptions, we can see that they do include information on the risks of each disease on that form. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that even without this amendment, the intent of this amendment will be carried out by CHFS if and when they ever need to create a form. Keep in mind that a form will never even be needed if we never encounter a situation where the state decides to mandate a vaccine for all people.
Finally, it is quite one-sided for the form to only contain information on health risks of the disease and not also include health risks of the vaccine being declined.
Amendment 4 – Willner – Oppose
This amendment is a definition of epidemic take from Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Third Edition An Introduction to Applied Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
The amendment reads, “As used in this section, "epidemic" means the occurrence of more cases of disease, injury, or other health condition than expected in a given area or among a specific group of persons during a particular period. Usually, the cases are presumed to have a common cause or to be related to one another in some way.”
This language is extremely broad and is intended for use in public health contexts. This language is NOT suitable for statute. The statute would be no more clear with this amendment added than it is today without having this vague definition of epidemic added.
This definition does not specify who must declare the epidemic, or how it must be declared. Words and phrases like “usually,” “presumed,” “in some way”, and “more… than expected” are arbitrary and add no benefit. What entity sets the expectations of levels of disease as the threshold? SB8 is specific to vaccines being required in an epidemic, but this definition also include injuries. We do not vaccinate against injuries.
Contact Your Representative - "Yes on SB8 and NO on Amendments 1-4"
1. Continue to call the message line daily at 1-800-372-7181 and ask to leave the following messages:
- For your REPRESENTATIVE in support of SB8. "Please vote YES on SB8 and vote no on Amendments 1-4. This is not about COVID, but about medical freedom." Feel free to customize your message, but keep it brief!
- 2. Email your REPRESENTATIVE asking them to support SB8. Put "Vote YES on SB8, oppose amendments 1-4 - Constituent e-mail" in the subject line. See further below for a sample e-mail.
Find your Legislators here. If your Rep does not have their e-mail listed on their bio page, it is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get tips here. Please forward any responses received to us at email@example.com. Keep your e-mail concise. Here are some suggestions from our lobbyist and legislators:
- Personal/individual liberty
- Support for mandate removal
- This isn't about COVID, but about the state mandating any future vaccine
- Government shouldn't be able to mandate medical procedures
- Religious freedom and choices
- Medical freedom and choices
- Anything off topic (like masking, impeachment, etc.)
- Vaccine safety
- Anything that could be considered a conspiracy theory, especially related to the COVID vaccine
Sample email or letter to House Members on SB8
Subject line: Vote YES on SB and no on amendments 1-4, constituent e-mail
Dear Representative (their last name),
Senate Bill 8 has passed Health & Family Services, and I am asking you to please vote Yes on this bill and No to floor amendments 1-4 and uphold my ability to make my own medical decisions under any circumstance. This bill passed the Senate with a vote of 34-1.
I am deeply troubled that current Kentucky law would allow the state to forcibly vaccinate me and my family without consent. KRS 214.036 currently states, “In the event of an epidemic in a given area, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services may, by emergency regulation, require the immunization of all persons within the area of epidemic, against the disease responsible for such epidemic.” This is dangerous and unacceptable and it must be changed.
If, in the future, the state were to mandate a vaccine for all citizens due to an epidemic, SB8 would allow Kentucky citizens to be exempted by reason of medical contraindication, religious objection, or objection due to conscientiously held beliefs. There are no current exemptions for adults in Kentucky law, other than for long-term care facilities. The existing exemptions that are more commonly known about relate to children in daycare and K-12 schools. SB8, as amended by the Senate, does NOT change the exemptions for childhood vaccines
Previously, it may have been easy to read the language in KRS 214.036 and discount it as something that would “never happen.” But the events of the past year place these words in a new context. While the administration has stated that there are “no current plans” for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, we cannot predict what will happen in the future with the current pandemic or any subsequent situation. This bill is not only about the COVID vaccine. The government must not be able to force a medical intervention on an individual. This statement stands as inalienable truth and is further reinforced by the fact that the manufacturers of vaccines have no liability for the damages inflicted by their products (National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and The PREP Act).
My reasoning for opposing the floor amendments is as follows. Amendment 1 would remove the ability for parents to exempt their child if the state were to mandate a vaccine in an epidemic. It has nothing to do with existing exemptions for school. Amendment 2 would only allow in-state health care providers to approve a medically necessary exemption, but many people with complex health needs see specialists in other states. Amendment 3 assumes that this bill is only about a COVID vaccine and requires any exemption form to have information about "coronavirus," but this bill applies to any future epidemic. Amendment 4 attempts to define "epidemic," but does so in language that is far too broad to be useful in statute.
Thank you for your time.
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What is SB8?
If the state were to ever mandate a vaccine due to an epidemic, be it COVID or any other disease, the language in SB8 would allow any Kentuckian to claim a medical, religious, or conscientious belief/philosophical exemption. The current bill does not add or remove anything from the current medical and religious exemptions for daycare or K-12 attendance.
The original bill language would have also added a philosophical exemption for daycare and K-12, but this language was removed in the Senate due to pushback from schools and medical groups. You can read the entire text as it currently stands here.