Proposed bill seeks to prevent Oklahoma State Department of Health from advertising COVID-19 vaccines

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill proposed to the Oklahoma Legislature seeks to block the Oklahoma State Department of Health from promoting COVID-19 vaccines.

This week marked the deadline for the rush to file proposals for new laws and resolutions in Oklahoma. A total of 2,350 new bills and joint resolutions have been tabled for possible consideration in the legislative session, as of February 7.

“I don’t want Oklahoma taxpayers to fund this endless vaccination campaign by the Department of Health,” said Rep. Wendi Stearman, R-Collinsville, the lawmaker who proposed the bill.

“This continues to reinforce misinformation and sometimes outright lies about the safety of these vaccines,” said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

“My preference is just not to use taxpayer dollars to advertise this particular vaccine in any way,” Stearman said. “I expect there won’t be a single citizen of Oklahoma who doesn’t know that there is a vaccine for the virus.”

If violated, if it becomes law, the bill states that the Department of Health would receive a “10% reduction in funding to be taken from the salaries of the commissioner, deputy commissioner and executives” .

“What would you say to people who are like, you know, it’s just the state health department, doing their job and doing health promotion?” asked KFOR.

“Well, that’s debatable,” Stearman said.

However, doctors across the state and beyond, including Dr. Clarke, said it was not debatable.

“The data is very clear,” Clarke said. “It’s very safe and very effective.”

“We want you to get vaccinated and boosted because we know you’ll recover faster and you’re unlikely to need hospital care if you get COVID,” said Dr. Julie Watson, chief medical officer at Integris Health. .

“We know you need to get your shots and when the time comes, do your booster shots,” said Dr. Kersey Winfree, chief medical officer at SSM Health St. Anthony. “History has proven time and time again that vaccines save lives.”

The CDC and doctors, saying the vaccine has a high rate of effectiveness and prevents serious infections and hospitalizations, while mitigating the spread of the virus.

“Our public health sector does a job of promoting health and health care in and around your population,” Clarke said. “We’re talking about promoting vaccines that have been shown to be safe and effective against serious, especially serious, disease and death from COVID.”

We contacted the state health department and they had no comment on the ongoing litigation.

The bill can be read in its entirety on the Oklahoma State Legislature website.

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