KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri state senator from Harrisonville has called for a special session to prevent employers from requiring employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Republican Sen. Rick Brattin wrote a letter to Gov. Mike Parson making the request as several health care sites and businesses have begun requiring vaccines for employees and proof of vaccination from patrons.
“Forcing anyone to take an experimental drug is wrong,” Brattin said in a news release. “It violates some [of] our most basic rights as Americans and Missourians. We need to do something about it, and we need to do it now before people are forced out of their jobs.”
Brattin said in the letter that mandatory vaccinations are “concerning to a wide cross-section of Missourians.”
“Whether elderly or young, urban or rural, religious or secular, we are a state that greatly values its freedom and individual liberty,” he wrote. “Mandating our citizens to inject themselves with an experimental drug flies in the face of these principles and puts Missourians in the position of choosing between their livelihoods and their right to control their own lives.”
However, employment experts have previously told KSHB 41 News that private businesses are within their rights to require vaccines.
In December 2020, Stacy Bunck, office managing shareholder at of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., said in an interview with KSHB 41 reporter Andres Gutierrez that such mandates aren’t new.
“They're not generally known to the public because they haven't come into play as much today, but there is recognition for certain industries, such as health care industries, where there can be a mandatory vaccination,” Bunck said.
There still are exemptions in the form of religious beliefs and the American Disabilities Act, she said.
Claudia Tran, an employment law attorney, said on Tuesday in an interview with KSHB 41 reporter Sarah Plake that simply being opposed to vaccines would not qualify as an exemption.
"With other people who may have seen on Facebook or learned through their own research that they don't like vaccinations, that wouldn't necessarily be considered a strongly-held religious belief unless it's something that's been longstanding in their life or something they've relied on time and time again, not just this time," Tran said.
Recently approved legislation in Missouri also states that neither city governments and municipalities, nor city and county health departments can mandate vaccinations if they receive public funding.
The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines all received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
The following senators also signed on to Brattin's letter:
- Bill Eigel, District 23.
- Denny Hoskins, District 21.
- Mike Moon, District 29.
- Bob Onder, District 2.
- Holly Rehder, District 27.
KSHB 41 News has reached out to Parson's office for comment but has yet to receive a response.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article indicated that no Kansas City metro hospitals were requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for staff. It has since been corrected.