Tennessee Makes Previous Infection Equal to Vax Status in Govt. Private Sector

The law will be enacted without the governor’s signature of approval.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Tennessee state legislature passed a law that would treat immunity from previous COVID-19 infections as equal to having had the vaccination.
  • According to an Associated Press report, the bill became law without Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s signature but will take effect immediately. 
  • The bill requires those who would ask for proof of vaccine mandate to allow a letter from a licensed physician or certain lab test results to be sufficient in place of the vaccination.
REPUBLICANS’ CONTENTION ON THE LAW:
  • HB 1871, sponsored by Representative Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport-District 2), and SB 1982, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald-District 28), were written to recognize acquired immunity. 
  • However, the Republican governor had concerns about whether the bill would encroach on the rights of businesses to conduct themselves as they see fit.
  • Eric Mayo speaking on behalf of the governor told senators that Lee had concerns about “businesses being put in the situation where they aren’t able to make the decisions best for their business.” 
  • Lee has not vetoed any bills since taking office, and in the case of those with Republican support, the GOP supermajority in the Tennessee General Assembly would likely override him if he chose to do so.
BACKGROUND:
  • The state of Tennessee has chosen to recognize the laboratory test showing antibody, memory cell, or T cell immunity, which has been proven to provide “significantly more protection” than those with the vaccination alone. 
  • Natural immunity emerged as a contender in the legal challenges to the federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements last year as the focus of the legal fight shifted from vaccination to actual immunity.