Bill would ban COVID-19 shots in North Dakota; lawmakers weighing more vaccine bills, again
The bill would ban messenger RNA vaccines in North Dakota and penalize providers with a misdemeanor charge.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota lawmakers are again weighing bills that target vaccines, including one that would ban COVID-19 shots.
The Senate Human Services Committee on Tuesday heard Senate Bill 2384, brought by Sen. Jeff Magrum, R-Hazelton. The bill would ban messenger RNA vaccines in North Dakota and penalize providers with a misdemeanor charge. It's one of several bills opposing vaccines, a trend in legislation since 2021.
The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 shots are mRNA vaccines. Supplies of other COVID-19 vaccines by Novavax and Janssen are expiring, and the federal government isn't purchasing additional doses, according to state Immunization Program Manager Molly Howell.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mRNA vaccines use messenger RNA created in a lab to teach cells how to make a protein that triggers a body's immune system to produce antibodies protecting people from getting sick from a germ.
Magrum proposed amendments to make the bill into a two-year moratorium on mRNA vaccines and for a study.
The Senate panel did not take immediate action on the bill.
Magrum said he introduced the bill after two aunts died from blood clots "after they received a shot," and after he noticed "a huge uptick in young people dying suddenly" in obituaries. He also cited concerns with a new vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus in children.
At the end of 2022 nearly 70% of North Dakota adults were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the rate for all vaccine-eligible people -- age 5 and older -- at about 63%, according to federal data. That compared with 64% and 57%, respectively, at the end of 2021. North Dakota still lags behind the national rates.
More than 1 million doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been administered in North Dakota, according to Howell.
Bill supporters said mRNA vaccines are risky and harmful and need more scrutiny.
Opponents said mRNA vaccines are a promising medical technology. They also said the bill would force North Dakotans to seek health care outside the state, and would criminalize medical providers.
Other vaccine-related bills would ban health care employers and colleges from promoting and mandating COVID-19 shots, and would ban and criminalize vaccination requirements with a felony.
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