by Scott McClallen
Lawmakers heard testimony on House Bill 4471, which aims to ban employers from requiring certain vaccines and wearing masks.
The bill aims to ban employers from firing or discriminating against employees who choose not to get certain vaccinations, including tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, or COVID-19, or making them wear masks or disclosing vaccination status.
However, most of the two hours of bill testimony focused on attacking the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine instead of the actual bill language.
All but one of those testifying in-person supported the bill. No medical doctors supporting the COVID-19 vaccine gave in-person testimony.
The sole dissenting entity that gave in-person testimony, Brad Williams, the vice president of government relations at the Detroit Regional Chamber, was booed by the crowd after saying vaccines were the way out of the pandemic.
Williams called the bill “big government overreach” and argued the labor shortage was intertwined with the COVID-19 pandemic as much of the older workforce fears returning, he said, citing Chamber surveys.
Without evidence, Dr. Jim Culver, a medical doctor based in Flint claimed, “It’s the vaccinated people who should be wearing masks and socially distancing.”
Other allegations against vaccinations included: Vaccines cause autism (they don’t); natural immunity is better than that provided by the COVID-19 vaccine, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend vaccination even if an individual has had COVID-19); the vaccine is experimental (it’s emergency-use authorized); and natural COVID-19 immunity lasts forever (it doesn’t).
At least eight Michigan colleges have required the COVID-19 vaccine as well as several workplaces, leading thousands to protest that they either get the jab or lose their job or college admission privileges.
During bill testimony, the House Chair of the House Committee on Careers, Trades, and Talents Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan, apologized for not offering more testimony time and then spent at least 20 minutes reading cards of individuals supporting or opposing the bill, which is unusual.
Actual Michigan hospital data (slide 44) paints a clearer picture.
From January 15 through July 28, 97.6% of COVID-19 cases appeared in people not fully vaccinated. About 94.5% of hospitalizations in this period were people not fully vaccinated, and 95% of those who died from COVID-19 weren’t fully vaccinated.
The vaccine isn’t a silver bullet, but it does reduce the chance of COVID-19 hospitalization and death. Of 4.6 million fully vaccinated people in Michigan, just .005% died from COVID-19 related causes.
A recent CDC study indicates unvaccinated people are 2.34 times more likely to be reinfected than those who are fully vaccinated.
Michigan’s COVID-19 breakthrough rate is less than 1%.
The Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) opposes the bill.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is not only safe but proven to reduce the risk for hospitalization and death by more than 95%,” the MHA said in a statement. “Hospitals have a moral and legal obligation to protect their patients, protect their workforce, maintain their capacity to care for individuals in their communities, and ensure a functioning healthcare system. This legislation directly impairs the ability of hospitals and health systems to perform their core functions and meet their responsibilities.”
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. Chamber President & CEO Rich Studley tweeted, “Private sector decisions about health & safety in the workplace should be made by business owners, not politicians.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square.