What’s in the budget: COVID-19 vaccination prohibitions

FILE – A child reacts as he receives his Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)

RALEIGH — With the passage of the state budget by lawmakers last month and its enactment without Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature, one provision will bar state entities from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of one.  

The language adopted in the state budget appears to be the same as language contained in the Medical Freedom Act, House Bill 98. The act, which also originally banned mask mandates for K-12 students, did not advance beyond passage by the House.   

The vaccination prohibition language has exceptions related to direct federal work or positions that are federally funded, specifically naming the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Under the budget, state employers are prohibited from requiring individuals to get a COVID-19 vaccination or present proof either to get a job or stay in a current job. 

Additionally, all schools that receive public funds, both K-12 and post-secondary, are banned from requiring proof of a shot or the shot itself to attend.  

Both prohibitions give specific exemptions if there is a requirement for vaccination or proof of vaccination to participate in a program of study, fulfilling education requirements for a program, or “requires working, volunteering, or training in a facility certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”