A member of the Iowa House is planning an event at the Capitol that may feature one of the country’s most outspoken and controversial critics of the COVID vaccine.
Representative Jon Jacobsen, a Republican from Glenwood, has been working on a bill that would prevent employers from asking about an employee’s vaccination status and he hopes to have what he calls “an evidentiary hearing” on the legislation.
“I have many physicians that want to testify. We might have Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. coming in to testify,” he said. “We are going to have a compendium of people in the health care professions, from the sciences.”
Kennedy, the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, founded a group that campaigns against vaccines in general. Some of Kennedy’s prominent relatives have publicly criticized him for spreading “dangerous misinformation” and Kennedy’s own wife publicly rebuked him this week for making a reference to Nazi Germany during an anti-vaccine mandate rally. Jacobson said the main aim of the bill he’s working on is to address privacy issues.
“I am not an anti-vaxxer. This is not an anti-vax bill. Most of my family’s all vaccinated. We’ve been vaccinated since kids. My kids are all vaccinated,” Jacobsen said. “I’m going to be doing some work coming up for a U.S. governmental entity that will require that I’m vaxxed and boosted to the gills.”
Jacobsen said employers can “make suggestions about the health” of their employees, but he said asking about vaccinations is a violation of privacy.
“Private medical data is sacrosanct,” he said. “What’s happened in this crisis is that medical data is the ‘coin of the realm’ that ultimately is used as the commodity to leverage against you in employment.”
Last October, the legislature passed a law letting Iowans file their own claims for religious or medical exemptions from COVID vaccination mandates in their workplace. A copy of the bill Jacobsen is working on is not publicly available.