Correction: In the original story an incorrect term was used which has been fixed.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A proposed bill in the Oklahoma Legislature seeks to stop the Oklahoma State Department of Health from promoting COVID-19 vaccines.
This week marked the deadline of the rush to file proposals for new laws and resolutions in Oklahoma. In total, 2,350 new bills and joint resolutions were filed for possible consideration in the legislative session, beginning Feb. 7.
“I do not want Oklahoma taxpayers to be funding this never-ending vaccine campaign by the department of health,” said Rep. Wendi Stearman, R-Collinsville, the lawmaker who proposed the bill.
“This continues to reinforce the misinformation and sometimes the outright lies about the safety of these vaccines,” said Dr. Mary Clarke, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
“My preference just not using tax dollars to advertise this particular vaccine in any way,” Stearman said. “I expect that there is not a single citizen in Oklahoma who is not familiar with the fact that there is a vaccine available for the virus.”
If it was violated, should it become law, the bill states that the department of health would receive a “10 percent reduction in funding that must be taken from the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, and executive salaries.”
“What would you say to people who are like, you know, that’s just the State Department of Health, doing their job and promoting health?” KFOR asked.
“Well, that’s debatable,” Stearman said.
However, doctors around the state and beyond including Dr. Clarke said it’s not debatable.
“The data is very clear,” Clarke said. “It is very safe and very effective.”
“We want you to get vaccinated and boosted because we know you’ll recover more quickly, and you likely won’t require hospital care if you get COVID,” said Dr. Julie Watson, Chief Medical Officer at Integris health.
“We know that you must get vaccinated and when the time is right, get your booster,” said Dr. Kersey Winfree, Chief Medical Officer at SSM Health St. Anthony. “History has proven time and time again, vaccines save lives.”
The CDC and doctors alike, stating that the vaccine has a high efficacy rate and prevents serious infections and hospitalizations, while also mitigating the spread of the virus.
“Our public health sector does one job that is to promote health and health care in and around your population,” Clarke said. “We are talking about promoting vaccines that have proven to be safe and effective against severe, especially severe, disease and dying from COVID.”
We reached out to the state department of health and they had no comment on the pending legislation.
The bill can be read in its entirety on the Oklahoma State Legislature website.