Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du lac)/Sen. Frank Lasee (De-Pere) have begun circulating LRB 0428/4— Relating to: limitations on requiring vaccination against influenza for co-sponsorship.
This bill allows for a “personal” exemption of any mandated influenza vaccination that any employer may currently impose on its employees and vendors. This bill only applies to the flu vaccine. Vaccinations are not immunizations.
It is a matter of personal freedom for an individual to make their own personal health care decisions. Employees are essentially being medicated without consent due to the high pressure of losing one’s job.
Currently, if an employer mandates a flu vaccine as a condition of employment, a “religious exemption” must be allowed which protects the 1stAmendment rights of employees. I question why a religious exemption supersedes a personal objection for this specific issue. As evidence of laws moving in this direction a New Jersey appeals court upheld that a nurse was unfairly denied unemployment benefits after she was fired for refusing a flu shot without claiming a religious or medical exemption on June 5, 2014.
It is not unreasonable to raise a personal objection to the flu vaccine—the legislature has already passed much less invasive bills for worker freedom this session. Employees should not fear demotion, retaliation, or dismissal for making a personal choice to decline a mandated flu shot from their employer.
Based on the CDC this year’s (2014-15) flu vaccine was only 23% effective. Flu vaccines have historically shown to be, at best, only 50%-60% effective. The vaccine has shown to be least effective on the senior population. For the 2013-14 flu season it had a protective rate for people over 65 of only 9%.
Additionally, there are hospitals that are beginning to respect the employees’ personal health care decisions. For example, UW Health in Madison currently has a “personal conviction” exemption in their employee policies regarding the flu shot. Meriter in Madison also has a “non-medical” reason for individuals to receive an exemption from the flu shot. This bill’s “personal” exemption bill will now help level the playing field for all workers around the state to share in that same exemption.
Please reply via email or call my office at 6-3156 by Friday, July 17th, 1:00 p.m. to be added to this legislation. You will be added to both the Senate and Assembly version of the bill.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill prohibits any employer, including the state and local governments, from demoting, suspending, discharging, or otherwise discriminating against an employee or contractor for refusing to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza. An employee, under the bill, includes any intern and any volunteer. The bill also prohibits any employer from doing any of the following: refusing to hire a prospective employee or renew the contract of an employee or contractor for refusing to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza; or denying an affiliation in a network of similar employers to an individual who refuses to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza.