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East TN lawmaker files legislation allowing Tennesseans to refuse COVID-19 vaccinations

The bill would amend Tennessee law to prevent state or local leaders into forcing Tennesseans to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Another bill has been filed in the Tennessee General Assembly targeting the right to refuse vaccinations, specifically a vaccination for COVID-19.

HB0013 is sponsored by Representative Bud Hulsey, a Republican representing District 2 in Sullivan County. The bill would amend Tennessee law to prevent state or local leaders into forcing Tennesseans to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The bill states "A law enforcement agency or governmental entity of this state or a local government, or the governor or chief executive of a local government by executive order, shall not force, require, or coerce a person to receive an immunization or vaccination for COVID-19 against the person's will."

Governor Bill Lee, state and local health leaders have already said they would not force a COVID-19 vaccine on people, and last month Lee said he would make the vaccine optional in the public school system.

“Vaccines are a choice, and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine,” Lee said.  

This is the second piece of legislation filed for the new session. Senator Mark Pody and Rep. Jay D. Reedy sponsored legislation which would allow Tennesseans to object to any vaccinations based on religious belief or conscience.

The bills come as the first batches of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to four states to test distribution methods. Tennessee, one of the states in the program, is expected to get the state's first doses by mid-December.