Idaho Bill Would Make mRNA COVID Vaccines Illegal

A legislator behind the bill expressed concern vaccines were 'fast-tracked'
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2023 1:54 PM CST
Idaho Bill Would Make mRNA COVID Vaccines Illegal
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine rests on a table at a drive-up mass vaccination site   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

When it comes to COVID vaccination rates, Idaho is near the bottom of the barrel, with US News & World Report citing CDC data that shows 56.2% of residents are fully vaccinated. That's the sixth-lowest rate in the country, and if two Republican Idaho state legislators have their way, low vaccination rates would likely remain the norm. State Sen. Tammy Nichols and Rep. Judy Boyle are sponsoring a bill that would make giving mRNA vaccines—COVID and otherwise—illegal. House Bill 154, introduced Feb. 15 in the Idaho House Health & Welfare Committee, would make it a misdemeanor to provide or administer an mRNA vaccine to "an individual or any other mammal in this state."

While the bill doesn't reference COVID vaccines specifically, KTVB reports that Nichols was referring to mRNA COVID vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer in particular when she said she and her colleague "have issues [the vaccine] was fast-tracked" and have heard "a lot of information ... with concerns to blood clots and heart issues." At least one lawmaker, Democratic State Rep. Ilana Rubel, pushed back, and USA Today notes the FDA and CDC have deemed the vaccines safe and effective in the fight against COVID.

mRNA isn't new: A Johns Hopkins history notes that scientists discovered "messenger RNA" in the 1960s. However, an mRNA vaccine wasn't used in animal testing until the 1990s, and the COVID vaccines are the first mRNA ones to get full FDA approval here. Researchers aren't stopping with that application: The National Cancer Institute noted in 2022 that dozens of clinical trials are looking at the use of mRNA vaccines in relation to pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma. As for HB 154, it still has plenty hurdles to leap, as it would need to pass a committee vote to make it to the House floor for debate.
(More COVID-19 stories.)

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