Louisiana lawmakers make bipartisan effort to kill school COVID-19 vaccine requirement

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will go forward with the requirement despite opposition

By: - December 6, 2021 6:23 pm

At the Dec. 6, 2021 Health and Welfare meeting, Attorney General Jeff Landry questioned the legality of a K-12 COVID-19 vaccine requirement. (Photo by Rachel Mipro/Louisiana Illuminator)

The Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee voted 13-2  in a bipartisan effort to reject adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations for K-12 schools, daycare centers and higher education institutions during a five-hour hearing Monday.  

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, intends to move forward with adding the vaccine to immunization schedule in spite of the vote. Edwards believes he has the authority to do so without the Legislature’s permission. 

All the Republicans on the committee voted against the vaccine requirement, along with three Democrats — Reps. Kenny Cox, Travis Johnson and Ed Larvadain —  and independent Rep. Roy Daryl Adams. Only two Democrats, Reps. Robby Carter and Dustin Miller, sided with the governor.  

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry– who has a history of opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates — is likely to sue over the matter. He spoke against the school vaccine requirement at the beginning of the hearing, saying it was an overreach by the governor. 

“This proposed rule has no merit. It is ill advised. It makes policy and mandates vaccines, powers that are reserved to each and every one of you in this body” Landry said.

Once added to the list of required vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will be implemented in the fall 2022 school semester, according to State Health Official Dr. Joseph Kanter. 


This requirement would apply to those ages 16 and up, since the Pfizer vaccine is only fully approved for this age group. When younger age groups get full approval to take the shot from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the requirement will expand to include those groups as well. 

A total of 18 children in Louisiana have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March of 2020, according to the health department. The Delta variant, which peaked a few months ago, increasingly affected a younger demographic, causing nine of these pediatric COVID-19 deaths.

Louisiana law also gives parents a straight-forward way to circumvent school vaccine requirements. Parents can exempt a child from taking a vaccine by submitting written dissent to the requirement or a note from a physician saying the vaccine is not medically advisable.  


Most lawmakers who registered their disapproval of the vaccine requirement said they had been flooded with requests from their constituents, asking them to speak against the requirement. 

“I‘ve served in the Legislature for over 12 years,” said Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge. “I’ve never seen the outpouring of opposition to something like I have with this, I mean hundreds of emails, phone calls.” 

Packed with anti-vaccine spectators, the meeting included frequent audience outbursts. More than 200 commentary cards were turned in from members of the public who wanted to register their disapproval of the requirement. 

The hearing comes in the wake of the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant. The first Louisiana case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 was announced Sunday, and with the severity of omicron unknown, Louisiana officials are advocating for vaccines to dampen the potential spread of this strain in the state. 

While Louisiana COVID-19 cases remain low, only around 49% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated–including 22% of residents that have also received the booster shot as last Friday

Representatives who voted against the COVID-19 vaccine requirement: 

Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall 

Roy Adams, No Party -Jackson

Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches 

Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City 

Michael Echols, R-Monroe

Julie Emerson, R-Carencro

Travis Johnson, D-Vidalia 

Ed Larvadain, D-Alexandria 

Wayne McMahen, R-Minden

Robert Owen, R-Slidell 

Thomas Pressly, R-Shreveport 

 Joseph Stagni, R-Kenner

Christopher Turner, R-Ruston

Representatives who voted for the COVID-19 vaccine requirement:

Robby Carter, D-Amite 

Dustin Miller, D-Opelousas 



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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

Rachel Mipro is a contributing reporter to the Illuminator. She has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.