Idaho advances bill easing worker compensation for vaccine side effects, other COVID-related bills

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Idaho lawmakers easily advanced a bill Tuesday that would provide worker’s compensation for employees who get side effects after being mandated to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

The state House passed the bill 67-3, along with six other COVID-related bills which now head to the state Senate. 

“If the employer is telling you, you have to do this in order to work here, if they’re doing that, then, by golly, I think our system ought to provide a fair compensation method,” Democratic Rep. John Gannon said.

Opponents of the bill said that current worker compensation laws adequately cover vaccine side effects, although some employees had complained worker compensation has been difficult to get. 

Common vaccine side effects include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Idaho lawmekers moved froward several bills related to the coronavirus vaccine this week. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler)
(AP Photo/Keith Ridler)

Another bill that passed 46-24 would prohibit employers from questioning the sincerity of those seeking religious exemptions for the vaccine. 

Opponents said people without religious beliefs would just lie to not have to get the vaccine but Republican Rep. Greg Chaney argued questioning someone’s faith lowers the “sacredness of what it means to claim a religious exemption. What it means to have a sincerely held faith.”

Bills that would provide school mask mandate exemptions, prevent vaccine status “discrimination,” prevent employees from asking employees about vaccine status, prohibit requiring proof of being vaccinated to enter or use state-owned public venues and that would provide employees medical, religious, philosophical and natural immunity exemptions for all vaccines also passed.

Idaho’s House and Senate both declared opposition in a voice vote to President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors and vaccine requirements for large employers and health care employers.

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