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Calling It 'Tyranny', GOP State Lawmakers Seek Ban On Hospitals Requiring COVID Vaccines For Staff

Facebook / Rep. Sean Roberts
Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy), left, with the Oklahoma House of Representatives' "Doctor of the Day" in the House chamber on March 4, 2020.

A group of 20 Republican state legislators on Thursday issued a letter to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, asking for an executive order banning hospitals in the state from requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"If we do not protect the individual’s right to choose what goes in their body, we no longer live in a free society," reads the letter from the group, led by Hominy Rep. Sean Roberts.

"Those signed onto this letter and I respectfully request you draft an executive order to deal with this issue. If you deem this to be an issue the legislature needs to take care of, we respectfully request you call the legislature into special session to end medical tyranny and help us secure and protect our most basic human rights and civil liberties."

Several hospital systems, including OU Health and Mercy in Oklahoma City, have announced such requirements in order to keep staff, patients and visitors safe from the disease, which has begun a resurgence in the state. None of Tulsa's three large hospital systems -- Saint Francis, Ascension St. John and Hillcrest -- have implemented vaccination requirements. 

Dr. Lance Frye, commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, told Public Radio Tulsa earlier this month that the department would not take action to prevent hospitals from requiring the vaccinations and that he, personally, did not view such a mandate as any different than the requirement that health care staff be vaccinated against the flu each year, a common policy at most hospitals.

The governor's office did not immediately return an early Friday morning request for comment on whether Stitt intended to act on the request. 

Signatories to the letter include Republican Reps. Lonnie Sims of Jenks, Mark Vancuren of Owasso, Tom Gann of Inola, Kevin McDugle of Broken Arrow, and David Hardin of Stilwell. 

In a tweet, Dr. George Monks, past president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, called the letter "dumb."

"Should we also bar having restaurant employees wash their hands after going to the bathroom?" Monks wrote.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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