Gov. Edwards Overrules Legislature, Adds COVID19 Vaccine to School Immunization Schedule


Photo by Cubadebate is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards notified Louisiana House lawmakers that he will add the COVID-19 vaccine to Louisiana’s school immunization schedule despite their attempts to block the new regulation earlier this month.

The House Health and Welfare Committee voted 13-2 against the plan earlier this month. All Republican members of the committee voted in opposition, as did one independent member and three of the committee’s Democratic members. However, Edwards said that the vote can’t legally stop him from enacting the regulation.

“The development of the COVID-19 vaccines in time to help us put this pandemic behind us also requires us to do everything we can to add COVID-19 to the list of diseases that no longer pose a serious threat. This rule does just that, and it should remain in place,” Edwards wrote to Rep. Larry Bagley, who chairs the House committee.

While the rule is expected to apply to students 16 and up next fall, parents can easily opt-out of vaccinating their children. The rule allows for broad exemptions including philosophical and religious objections to the vaccine.

“The rule explicitly provides that any student may be exempted by submitting ‘a written statement from a physician stating that such vaccination is contraindicated for medical reasons, or the individual or his parent or guardian submits a written dissent.’ This is the same exemption that has long been in state law and is one of the broadest exemptions in the country,” Edwards wrote.

However, whether the vaccine mandate will be allowed to take effect is still up for debate. Attorney General Jeff Landry – who spoke against the vaccine mandate at the Dec. 6th hearing ahead of the vote – is expected to file a lawsuit arguing that the governor lacks the authority to make the rule.

Landry has already had success in challenging vaccine mandates on the national level. In November, a Louisiana-based U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Landry, along with attorneys general of 13 other states joined together to sue the Biden administration over that mandate.


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