State of Health Freedom in Arizona
A spate of executive and legislative actions have recently passed in the Arizona state government in response to Covid-19 which have the potential to greatly impact citizens’ freedoms. On Tuesday June 22, the Arizona Senate passed SB1824, a budget bill containing several provisions concerning the interests of health freedom advocates. Foremost, the bill prevents state or local governmental entities (city, county, town, etc.) from establishing so-called vaccine passports for Covid-19. It specifies that 1) persons cannot be required to be vaccinated for Covid-19 or demonstrate proof thereof, and 2) businesses cannot be mandated to verify the vaccine status of patrons upon entry on their premises, however, are not restricted from establishing and enforcing vaccine passports on patrons if they choose. While we feel like this is a step in the right direction, legislators have more work to do during the next legislative session to prevent discrimination by businesses based on vaccination status.
SB1824 offers minimal protection for employees. Employers may require Covid-19 vaccination as a condition for employment. However, in response to an employee providing notice of sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that prevent the administration of a Covid-19 vaccine, the employer is advised to, “provide a reasonable accommodation unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship and more than a de minimus cost to the operation of the employer’s business.” Pointedly, the bill specifies that health care institutions cannot be prohibited from requiring vaccinations (including Covid-19) of its employees.
Schools, Colleges, & Universities
SB1824 stipulates that those vaccines which are not fully approved, and have only received the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) cannot be mandated by schools. As such, Covid-19 vaccines must not be required for school attendance. Additionally, the bill prevents schools from requiring the human papilloma vaccine. Masking of students is addressed in Section 35 of the budget amendments (SB1826), which prohibits any school district or charter school’s governing board “from requiring students or staff to use face coverings during school hours and on school property.” At present, some health freedom protections are in place for students of Arizona public colleges and universities. Executive Order 2021-15 prevents college students from having to accept a Covid-19 vaccination, show proof of such vaccination, or submit to routine masking or testing. Similar to medical providers, healthcare students and interns are exempted from these protections and are subject to Covid-19 vaccination requirements as mandated by their clinical sites.
Enhanced Surveillance Advisory
On June 1, 2021 Governor Ducey signed Executive Order 2021-14 into law, which authorizes the state’s creation of an Enhanced Surveillance Advisory (ESA), creating a system by which Covid-19 test results (including patient identifiers) are collected and curated. Additionally, vaccine providers are obliged to report all vaccine administration data (again including patient identifiers) every 24 hours to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). Data will then be shared with the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The ESA authorizes the sharing of private personal data regardless of whether a patient opts out.
|State government can mandate Covid-19 vaccination on individuals||X|
|Businesses can require proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of entry||X|
|Businesses can require Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. (Especially health care institutions).||X|
|Schools can mandate Covid-19 vaccines for students||X|
|Schools can require masks||X|
|Colleges may mandate Covid-19 vaccinations, passports, masks, & tests||X|
|Healthcare students & employees can be required by their sites to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination||X|
|ESA facilitates the sharing of private health information between state and federal agencies regardless of whether a person has authorized the release of this information.||X|