Vaccines an issue at the ND Legislature... again

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 8:09 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s been about three years since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in the United States. And Monday, after most of the population has either had the disease or been vaccinated against it, there were several bills in the State Legislature dealing with vaccine requirements.

We’ve said it and you’ve heard it time and again: doctors say the COVID vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect yourself and others against the virus. But some North Dakotans disagree, and they’re concerned about the implications around the shot: who’s required to get vaccinated, how the state monitors health outcomes from people who get vaccinated, and more.

Some North Dakotans are still wary about the adverse effects of vaccines.

“Every time I hear of someone suddenly dying or having a health change, I wonder if they’ve had the vaccine. I also wonder, for all of us who got vaccinated and those who continue taking the boosters, will our future health and life span be affected?” said Roberta Gaggle of Fargo.

Roberta Gaggle says she was negatively impacted by the COVID vaccine. And it’s for people like Roberta that lawmakers have brought bills that would address COVID-related issues, including legislation that would ban vaccine requirements in workplaces and at schools, require HHS to keep data on adverse vaccine events and require HHS to cover costs of treatment for someone who suffers an adverse vaccine event.

“If any industry is potentially causing death or injury, I think the people would appreciate that the House of Representatives wants to look into that,” said Representative Jeff Hoverson, R-Minot.

But other North Dakotans believe adverse events from COVID vaccines are simply correlated with vaccine timing – not directly caused by the shots.

“If I gave 10 million people a sugar cube, and all I did was watch them for two months, there would be approximately 4,025 heart attacks, 1,700 blood clots, 3,975 strokes, 9,500 new cases of cancer, and 14,000 people would die,” said Kylie Hall of Fargo.

And healthcare professionals from different segments of the medical industry say the vaccines have been invaluable to their institutions.

“We saw immediately when the vaccine was mandated, residents got vaccinated at 95%, and absolutely, our death rate and our illness rate dropped dramatically. It’s rare that we have a death with our residents or serious illness, the vaccine has made a tremendous impact and has saved lives,” said Shelly Peterson, president of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association.

While others are worried these bills would affect the state’s ability to react to another deadly virus.

“This is about the future, this is making rules for things that are coming down the pipe. So, let’s say I have something like that, that’s as transmissible as measles but as deadly as the Zaire ebola. You would have over 200 million deaths before the year ran out. Do you really want to put in rules that say, ‘I can’t use an experimental vaccine?’” said Dr. Chris Meeker, a physician in Bismarck.

As for those new rules? The committee didn’t act on Monday.

The committee heard four vaccine-related bills Monday. There are two more still to be scheduled.

Live at the Capitol at 5