At first it was the battle over masks useage during COVID. We've seen countless news stories, videos and social media accounts of persons who were harassed, shamed, and even discriminated against by those who disagreed with their choice of using a mask sor not.

Some even experienced harrassment in the workplace.

Now according to a GOP State Senator from the Spokane Valley and Senator Doug Ericksen,  vaccines are becoming the next hot button issue.

Senator Doug Ericksen and Sen. Mike Padden  and other GOP leaders are pushing heavily Senate Bill 5144, which would provide 'protection' for those who choose not to get a COVID vaccine. According to Ericksen:

“When I introduced this bill at the start of session, we knew this would become a serious issue, We are hearing from people who have been threatened with termination if they refuse to take the vaccine. There are proposals to issue ‘coronavirus passports’ that would allow vaccinated persons to travel freely, and restrict the movement of anyone else. This legislation isn’t pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, but rather pro-individual rights. We need to end this discrimination before it becomes widespread.”

The bill was denied a hearing and a vote early in the legislative session, but is being revived by these GOP leaders.

Ericksen and others are part of what's called the GOP Freedom Caucus in the State Senate; leaders who have committed to pushing liberty, freedom and other rights of citizens in the legislation they support or oppose.

Ericksen says he and the rest of the GOP have received a lot of emails, calls and correspondence from citizens whom he says were "caught up" in the rush by many to get vaccinated. In that rush, some are finding they're being harrassed for not choosing to be vaccinated.

Senator Phil Fortunato, another Freedom Caucus member,  used one example he learned of concerning a woman named Tracy Nelson. She is a Bonney Lake Office Manager who works in a Bellevue, WA medical office. She said she has been threatened with termination if she doesn't receive a vaccine by the end of April. According to Fortunato, she says she's leery because the vaccinations were rushed into use without clinical trials.

She told GOP leaders she felt like she was "being bullied" and she shouldn't be required to take an unlicensed vaccine.

Ericksen and other GOP leaders say it isn't just in the workplace; many citizens have told them they've experienced shaming and verbal attacks from others--especially on social media.

SB 5144 would put into law the following:

 "Public and private employers could not require workers to be vaccinated.

• Schools could not require vaccination as a condition of attendance.

• Access could not be denied to places of public accommodation, including public places and businesses open to the public.

• Vaccination could not be required for travel on planes, trains and buses.

• Those who choose not to be vaccinated could not be denied any right available to the population as a whole."

Senator Padden (Spokane Valley) said "we are not anti vaccine," they want people to have access to it if they choose.  He also said:

"No one should be forced to be vaccinated just to exercise the fundamental rights available to all citizens.This bill is about protecting Washingtonians from discrimination and possible bullying.”


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