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Missouri House backs bills against COVID-19 vaccine mandates

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. A coronavirus vaccine is still months or years away, but groups that peddle misinformation about immunizations are already taking aim -- and potentially eroding -- confidence in what could be humanity’s best chance to defeat the virus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House passed a pair of bills Tuesday pushing back against requirements for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment or to receive an organ transplant.

One of the bills would prohibit public employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, with exceptions for nursing homes and other health care facilities that need to mandate vaccines in order to get federal funding.

The other bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for those with sincerely held beliefs against COVID-19 vaccines. It also would ensure those who are unvaccinated can still get unemployment benefits if they’re fired for not getting the vaccine, and it would prohibit people from being disqualified for organ transplants for declining to get the COVID-19 shots.

Both bills overwhelmingly passed the Republican-led House and now advance to the Senate, where similar measures have been proposed.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration has not imposed any COVID-19 vaccination requirements. But Missouri lawmakers this year have proposed more than three dozen bills pushing back against vaccination requirements from the the federal government, local officials or private employers.

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