New Arizona law will prohibit state from requiring COVID-19 vaccine for school kids

By Stephanie Innes | Arizona Republic

Arizona can’t mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for school children after Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed a bill into law to block that from ever happening.

The measure, House Bill 2086, prohibits the Arizona Department of Health Services from starting a process to include the COVID-19 vaccine on the state’s list of immunizations required for K-12 schoolchildren.

The state health department to date has not publicly signaled any intent to take that step.

State Rep. Joanne Osborne, R-Goodyear, sponsored the bill. Osborne, who is chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, has said the decision of whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine should be up to parents.

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Opponents of Osborne’s bill included the Arizona Public Health Association, the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians, the Arizona Education Association and the Arizona chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Critics have argued that there’s an existing process for adding a vaccine to the list of those required by state law and it includes significant public input.

Also, school-required vaccines already allow for parental choice, enabling them to get exemptions for medical reasons or “personal beliefs.”

“There’s a tried-and-true process that has worked for a long time and that we should trust the process,” Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association told the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee at a hearing on March 23.

The last time the health department added to its list of school-required vaccines was in 2008, when it added vaccines against chicken pox (varicella) and meningitis, said Humble, who is a former state health director and was an assistant state director at the time.

The process to add those vaccines took about 18 months and by law included a public comment period, he said.


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