Ericksen bill would protect individual rights amid rush to vaccinate

  • Bill would prohibit discrimination based on COVID vaccination status
  • Would block vaccination requirements for employment, school, travel, entry to public places
  • Leaves decision a matter of personal choice
  • Legislation isn’t pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, but pro- individual rights.

OLYMPIA – As a COVID vaccine is rolled out nationwide, individual rights and freedom of choice must be protected, says Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

Ericksen is preparing legislation for the 2021 legislative session that would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s vaccination status. Vaccination could not be required as a condition of employment, school attendance, state-regulated travel, or entry into places of public accommodation. Service could not be denied to a person who has not received a vaccination.

“We need to stop discrimination before it begins,” Ericksen explained. “Already we’re hearing that proof of vaccination could be required for everything from employment to the ability to board a plane, train or bus. But no decision is more personal than the choice of what to inject into your own body. This legislation isn’t pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine – it’s pro- individual rights.”

Ericksen’s bill is in the drafting stages and will be introduced before the 2021 legislative session begins Jan. 11. Ericksen said he is announcing the legislation prior to introduction to set the stage for next year’s debate.

Under Ericksen’s proposal, the vaccination decision would be left to the individual.

  • Public and private employers could not require workers to be vaccinated.
  • Schools could not require vaccination as a condition of attendance.
  • Access could not be denied to places of public accommodation, including public places and businesses open to the public.
  • Vaccination could not be required for travel on planes, trains and buses.
  • Those who choose not to be vaccinated could not be denied any right available to the population as a whole.

“Nowhere is the coercive power of government more intrusive than on this issue,” Ericksen said. “We don’t require flu shots and we shouldn’t require COVID shots. Often people forget that our constitution puts the rights of the individual first. We shouldn’t trample on it in a rush to vaccinate.”