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Don't ask about the vax. That's the message Kentucky lawmakers are sending as House Bill 28 moves closer to passage

Matt Rourke

Asking public employees, students, or staff about their COVID-19 vaccination status would be off-limits under a bill that earned the stamp of approval from the Kentucky House Thursday.

Framing the issue as one of personal liberty and freedom of choice, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Savannah Maddox, described statements about the government's role in keeping people safe or saving lives during the pandemic as "essentially euphemisms for forcing a needle into someone's arm against their will. That's what mandatory vaccination is."

While Kentucky is not requiring individuals to get a coronavirus vaccine, Maddox's bill is aimed at stopping the kind of mandates seen in healthcare settings and some businesses from making their way into governments and schools.

Under the bill, state and local governments and public universities and colleges would be barred from seeking information about the immunization status of employees, students, faculty, and staff. In addition, parents wishing not to vaccinate their children because of "conscientiously held beliefs" would also be permitted to send their kids to school. Rep. Derrick Graham asked whether potentially exposing other students to the virus is a fair tradeoff.

"Is that the right thing? Is that for the common good? I don't think that is," the Frankfort Democrat quizzed his colleagues.

The tug-of-war over personal liberty and responsibility to the community is likely to repeat itself as the bill goes on to be debated on the Senate side of Capitol.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.