A last-minute amendment to a bill that protects the governor’s pandemic-related emergency orders would prohibit private and public K-12 schools, colleges, and employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccination. Dartmouth College and Southern New Hampshire University have said they will require students to have a COVID-19 vaccination.
The amendment to Senate Bill 155 would also prevent any public or private “entity” from asking someone about their vaccination status before allowing them to use transportation or “public accommodations.” Health care employers could ask about vaccination status, but only if the employee poses a “direct threat” that could not be eliminated or reduced by an “accommodation.”
The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee will hold a public hearing on the amendment Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. via Zoom.
The amendment mirrors language in House Bill 220 that passed the House and is now before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. That “medical freedom” bill generated fierce debate between personal liberty advocates and medical providers during the Senate committee’s public hearing.
Rep. Terry Roy, a Deerfield Republican, sponsored the amendment being heard Tuesday. He could not be reached Monday.
New Hampshire public schools, like those around the country, require students to be immunized against polio, measles, mumps, and other diseases but provide religious and medical exemptions. Roy’s bill would not prohibit those existing vaccines but instead vaccines that have been in use for fewer than 10 years, which targets the COVID-19 vaccination.
Pamela DiNapoli, executive director of the New Hampshire Nurses Association, said the group would oppose an amendment to prohibit asking about vaccines.
“Currently students in New Hampshire are required to provide information to schools about required vaccines to attend school,” she said. “They are excluded from school if they do not provide the information or request an exemption. The same should be true for COVID.”
Other sections of the bill are more far-reaching. It would prohibit a state or “political subdivision” from passing any law, rule, ordinance, or order that would require a vaccine or maintain any list or registry with personal identification information regarding vaccine status.
It would also prohibit any “person or entity” from denying a person goods or services based on vaccination status.