Arkansas Mulls Disallowing Vaccine Mandates

Aug. 11, 2021
Large business interests are trying to dissuade legislators in Arkansas from interfering with private employers requiring COVID vaccines.

Tyson Foods and other large business interests are trying to dissuade legislators in Arkansas from interfering with private employers requiring COVID vaccines as a condition of employment.

A bill has been introduced in the Arkansas state Senate that would “create a state-recognized right to privacy for vaccination status,” according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. There is no chance of the bill passing anytime soon, but legislative committees heard testimony for and against it on Aug. 10.

Among those testifying was Tom Brower, Tyson’s senior vice president for health and safety. Tyson announced early in August that it would be requiring its entire workforce to be vaccinated by Nov. 1.

"Given concerns about the spread of the new delta variant, we believe requiring vaccination is the right thing to do, and we believe that this decision to require vaccination is essential to protect our workers," Brower said. The CEO of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce also testified against the bill.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the legislature into special session last week to address the issue of mask mandates. Arkansas had passed a law in April to prohibit schools and other governmental bodies from mandating masks, but Hutchinson, even though he signed the law, now says he regrets it and wants it lifted.

The legislature refused to consider doing so, and several members instead insisted on considering whether to allow businesses to require vaccinations for employees. The full legislature is now in recess and will reconvene in the fall.

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