CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Should the vaccine be a choice or obligation? As the country reopens, there is a growing debate over whether governments and businesses can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Lawmakers in at least 27 states have proposed banning employers from requiring workers to get the shot.
In Maryland, Delegate Nick Charles is introducing the Maryland Employee Protection Plan for Vaccine Refusal. It would keep companies from enforcing a vaccine mandate and firing workers who don’t want to be vaccinated. The bill would also protect the employer. For example, if a person who did not want to get the vaccine ends up getting sick then they will not be able to sue their job.
The Love Maryland Political Action Committee brought this issue to Charles’ attention and sent FOX 5 this statement:
"We had several people in the DMV reach out to us expressing concern regarding upcoming employer mandates, especially in the health care community where they know the science simply needs more time. We are grateful to Delegate Charles for sponsoring this bill and in doing so supporting Maryland workers."
If this bill passes, it will only be in place for two years until studies show the vaccine is officially effective and safe.
Charles said he has received a lot of support but admits some do oppose the bill because they believe it will instill fear.
"I’ve gotten feedback from other colleagues who may not necessarily like the bill. They’re scared that it may add to some hysteria and I tried to explain to folks. This is not a bill about anti-vaccine, it’s not a bill about adding to hysteria. It’s about protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens," said Charles.
However, he adds there is a bigger problem at stake – the economy.
"If mandates are put in place and those who are still scared, what will end up happening where - we already have a chronic unemployment - that community will be either further disadvantaged where people in the community will lose their jobs if they’re scared," said Charles.
Charles wants to be clear – this is not an anti-vaccine bill. He got the vaccine and encourages others to do the same. However, he said the reality is that there are some people in Maryland who do not want to get the shot. Charles spent time talking to frontline workers, healthcare employees, and those in law enforcement and a majority of them – especially in the Black community – are scared to get the shot.
A woman named Tae Allen told FOX 5 she does not plan to get the shot and would be sad if she was let go from her job as a result.
"I would be hurt. I’d be real hurt. You know why? I have a family to feed. My job shouldn’t be decided on if I get the vaccine or not. That’s like you telling me I should go get the flu shot and if you don’t get the flu shot, I should have the option of what I do with my body," said Allen.
Delegate Charles said this is a critical bill. No word yet on if it will pass or not. Stay with FOX 5 for updates.
A similar bill failed in Virginia and at this time, there’s no discussion of any legislation being introduced in D.C.