JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Gov. Mike Parson is still encouraging Missourians to get vaccinated, but he does not support a federal vaccine mandate and is warning local business owners to not require employees to get vaccinated.
Under the executive order, the governor issued Thursday, any entity under the executive branch cannot make a person get the COVID vaccine if the individual objects due to medical or religious reasons.
Nearly 50% of Missouri’s population is fully vaccinated as of Friday. Parson said the federal government and the state need to understand not everyone is going to take the vaccine.
“Everybody just needs to realize it’s getting better every day in this state, people don’t need to be losing their jobs simply because they don’t want to take a vaccine,” Parson told our Missouri Chief Capitol Bureau reporter Emily Manley in a one-on-one interview Friday.
President Biden has signed executive orders mandating federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated, but Missouri wants to stop the mandates.
“I think it’s important we push back and say we don’t need that, we can handle Missouri just fine,” Parson said. “We don’t need the federal government coming in here to be able to do things like that.”
Less than 24 hours after Parson issued his executive order, Attorney General Eric Schmitt along with 10 other attorneys general sued the Biden administration over the federal vaccine mandate.
Parson’s order requires the executive branch to cooperate fully and timely with the attorney general’s litigation against any federally imposed COVID vaccine mandate.
It also does not allow any board, commission, or any other entity under the executive branch to penalize a person for not taking a vaccine due to medical or religious reasons.
Currently, Missouri has the lowest percentage of vaccinated staff in the nursing homes in the country.
“We don’t have the problems we did before, we just really don’t, so even though that number is out there, year, it’s not what you’re proud to have on there so much, but we still know we are keeping those people safe,” Parson said.
He’s concerned, where the federal government draws the line when it comes to the mandate.
“It’s a dangerous road to go down to say the least and where does it stop?” Parson said. “Does it stop if you draw any kind of federal aid? Whether you’re a low-income family and you’re drawing federal aid?”
Some conservative members in the General Assembly think Parson’s order doesn’t go far enough.
“There’s over 6.1 million people in the state of Missouri that would like that same type of protection,” Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg said.
“The governor has a lot of power and executive order, and I would like to see him use those in order to help everyone in the state.”
“I think it’s east to seat back in the cheap seats and say, ‘well you should do this or you should do that,’ but at the same time, I’ve got to follow the constitution, I’ve got to follow the law of the state,” Parson said.
Hoskins, along with several other Republicans sent a letter to the governor asking him to call a special session to stop vaccination mandates. Since the governor has made no notion of calling lawmakers back, Hoskins believes vaccine mandates will be a topic of discussion when members return in January.
“I see it kind of as an overreach of the federal government and I believe that these decisions should be made on a personal level,” Hoskins said. “Several constituents have reached out that work at employers that are going to require them to get the vaccine because of the federal government mandate coming down on them and they are very worried.”
He said he is not concerned if the state blocks any federal vaccine mandates that it could result in a lack of federal funding or aid.
“I’m not concerned when it comes to protecting people’s freedom and their personal choice as far as what money the federal government could hold from the state of Missouri.”
Parson and Hoskins do agree that health care workers should not be required to roll up their sleeves in order to keep their job.
“These healthcare workers, these doctors, and nurses, they have been through this whole pandemic and they have been going to work, working long hours, trying to help people that were diagnosed with COVID as well as other diseases,” Hoskins said.
“To make a mandate on them even though they’ve been working throughout this pandemic without having the vaccine, I think it’s ridiculous.”
Parson wants business owners to think twice before they put a mandate in place.
“I think if you’re a business, if you’re a CEO, I think you should be extremely cautious about what road you’re going to go down right now and what the outcome of that will be long term,” Parson said.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said this order does nothing and blames Schmitt and Parson for wasting taxpayers’ dollars.
“The governor’s executive order appears carefully crafted to do absolutely nothing – except promote the attorney general’s latest frivolous lawsuit at taxpayer expense. If these two put as much energy into fighting the pandemic as they do into fighting those fighting the pandemic, Missouri would be in a much stronger position.”
The White House has put a deadline in place, requiring federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8.
Parson said Friday both him and the First Lady have received their booster shots.