W.Va. Senate President compares COVID-19 vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia Senate passed a bill on Tuesday night that will prevent companies from implementing widespread COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

House Bill 335 was approved by a vote of 17-16 after more than an hour of heated debate on the Senate floor. At one point during the discussion, Senate President Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) even left his normal position to make a controversial speech in opposition of vaccine mandates.

“This vaccine has not been proven like the other ones that are mandated and ruled by the Supreme Court,” Sen. Blair said. “Frankly, I think this harkens back to Nazi Germany. Our federal government is using federal dollars to coerce the citizens of this country to be obedient to the state.”

Sen. Blair said he thinks people should get vaccinated against COVID-19, but said it should be a personal choice and not mandated by a company as a term of employment. During his speech, Blair also claimed the vaccine is not proven long-term and his doctor refused to report a side effect he was dealing with after getting fully vaccinated.

W.Va. Senate approves vaccination exemption bill

“If you have one person run the show, that’s a dictatorship and that’s what truly took Nazi Germany over the edge,” Sen. Blair said.

Sen. Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) quickly attempted to correct Blair, and said a vaccine was not the downfall of Nazi Germany.

“I want to make that clear, Nazi Germany collapsed for one reason, we conquered them at great, great, great human tragedy in our country and around the world,” Sen. Woelfel said.

Members of Sen. Blair’s Republican super majority even spoke in opposition of his position.

Sen. Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha) is a critical care doctor and said he treats unvaccinated people who are dying from COVID-19 every day.

“I am 100 percent, you will never see me vote against a freedom bill,” Sen. Takubo said. “But, I do have a litmus test on what I call freedom. Freedom only goes so far so long as it doesn’t bleed on to another person’s freedom. Once you have done that, I don’t call that freedom anymore. That’s called your choice is more important than my choice.”

Sen. Takubo said that businesses have a right to mandate vaccinations and employees have a right to decide where they want to work. He said the same applies for mask mandates and customers also have the right to decide if they want to support a private business based on their policies.

“There is nothing in our Constitution that guarantees anybody a job,” Sen. Takubo said.

Business, hospital leaders concerned by W.Va. COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemption bill

“I am deeply disturbed that our health care professionals, local government leaders, and business owners attempting to save lives in the midst of an ongoing pandemic are being compared to evil humans who committed the worst atrocities in the world’s history,” Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin (D-Greenbrier) said in a statement. “More than 4,000 West Virginians have died during COVID so far, and millions died during the Holocaust. Each life deserves the dignity of being treated with respect, not trivialized politically.”

Sen. Woelfel also raised a concern that this bill allows lawyers to make a lot of money from lawsuits against companies that wrongfully fire an employee who refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19. He estimated there could be 500 lawsuits from hospital workers just in the Huntington area.

W.Va. House passes vaccine mandate exemption bill

The House of Delegates is set to take the amended bill back up for consideration on Wednesday evening.

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