South Carolina bill would make it illegal to ask vaccine status

Republican lawmakers in South Carolina introduced legislation to make it illegal for employers to ask about coronavirus vaccination status, saying it's private medical information.

The bill's author said the legislation is needed because unvaccinated individuals are suffering real-world consequences. 

"We have people in South Carolina that are losing their jobs because they have to report to their employer that they're unvaccinated," bill sponsor Rep. Mike Burns told Fox News Digital. "We also have people who are having their insurance rates put in a different category. They're charging up to an extra $100 a week more than the vaccinated people. It is absolutely insane to do this kind of thing."

The legislation, H. 4848, was introduced on Jan. 20. The bill would make it a criminal offense for any employer, business, nonprofit or public entity to ask about someone's COVID-19 vaccination status.

Burns said asking about vaccination status should be off-limits, just like asking a woman about her pregnancy status.

e5975b97-Vaccine card

FILE - Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards.

"I'm your employer, and I asked you if you're pregnant, I can't do that," Burns told Fox News Digital. "I can't ask you if you're thinking about getting pregnant. I can't ask you if you got STDs or HIV. I can't ask any of those private medical questions, but somehow it's alright to terminate people's employment because I didn't take this emergency-use-only vaccine. This is ridiculous."

Burns introduced the legislation along with fellow GOP Reps. Patrick Haddon, Steven Long, Bill Chumley, Sandy McGarry and Vic Dabney. 

The legislation makes asking vaccination status a misdemeanor, that carries a fine of up to $14,000 and/or one year in jail. 

While the Supreme Court recently banned the Biden administration's vaccine-or-test federal mandate on certain employers with over 100 employees. The legislation, if enacted, would block South Carolina employers from voluntarily implementing vaccine requirements. 

Burns acknowledged the legislation has little chance of becoming law since only "about 5% of all the bills" that are filed become law. Still, Burns said he wanted to take action because "people are getting pretty sick and tired of these mandates."

More than 80% of all people age 5 and older in the United States have had at least one coronavirus vaccination dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The vaccination rates in South Carolina are lower than the national average, with about 62% of all eligible residents getting at least one dose, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

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