COVID vaccine will remain a requirement for Louisiana students
The Senate Health and Welfare committee rejected a House resolution Wednesday to repeal a state rule requiring COVID vaccines for students.
The committee voted 4-3 against the resolution. Its vote will allow the Louisiana Health Department to add the COVID vaccine to a list of required immunizations for students aged 16 and up.
Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, proposed the resolution after several lawmakers brought the rule to his attention.
“I have 10 pages of testimony from people in opposition,” Bagley said. He also claimed: “There’s danger there in vaccines.”
A number of parents traveled to the Capitol to testify in support of the resolution to strike down the COVID-vaccine requirement.
“There is real discrimination that happens as a result of this being passed and mandated in the schools,” Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue said. “It is very obvious to us as moms that this is more of a political thing than a health thing for our kids.”
Rodrigue is a former prosecutor in New Orleans and daughter of former Orleans Parish DA Leon Cannizzaro, who is now the top deputy of the criminal section under Attorney General Jeff Landry. Rodrigue co-founded the anti-vaccine mandate Mama Bears group that has publicly aligned itself with Landry.
Children are required to quarantine for 14 days if exposed to the virus. Rodrigue also said that children who are not vaccinated are treated differently in school activities because of the vaccine requirement.
But Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, said she had a personal connection with the virus, as she lost her husband to COVID-19 in December 2020. She said both of her young grandsons who live with her are vaccinated.
“While there is a segment of folks that’s represented in this room who believes this one position, I can guarantee you that there’s a larger group that believes differently,” Barrow said.
Some pediatricians testified in favor of the vaccine requirement and added that it was very easy for parents to opt out if they do not want their children to get vaccinated.
The Health Department allows parents to apply for an exemption to the requirement for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.
The one-page exemption form just requires the name of the child, the school, a parent’s signature and a school representative’s signature.
The House had passed the resolution 69-30. But after the Senate committee’s vote against it Wednesday, the resolution will not make it to the Senate floor.
Allison Kadlubar is a reporter with LSU Manship School News Service.
The Louisiana Illuminator contributed to this report.
CORRECTION: This article was updated to reflect that the Mama Bears group is against vaccine mandates.