S. Dakota senator: Punishment followed exchange on vaccines

  • In US
  • 2023-01-26 17:47:30Z
  • By Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota Republican state senator who was stripped of her committee assignments said Thursday that her legislative punishment followed an exchange she had with a legislative aide about vaccinations.

Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, a Republican, told reporters that she had spoken to a member of the Legislature's research staff this week about her views on vaccinations. The senator, who is part of a right-wing group of Statehouse Republicans, has opposed vaccination requirements in schools.

The Republican-controlled Legislature in recent years has seen separate proposals to limit requirements for both the COVID-19 vaccine and childhood vaccines. Frye-Mueller said she did not bring up the COVID-19 vaccine during her exchange with the aide.

Childhood vaccines have long been celebrated as public health success stories, but vaccination rates among kindergarteners have dropped nationwide in recent years. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that decreased confidence in vaccines is a likely contributor, as well as disruptions to routine health care during the pandemic.

Falling vaccination rates open the door to outbreaks of diseases once thought to be in the rearview mirror, experts say.

Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, who presides over the Senate and made the decision to remove Frye-Mueller from two committee assignments Wednesday, has repeatedly declined to comment on the move.

The Senate Republican leader, Sen. Casey Crabtree, said Thursday the episode involved a personnel issue and more information would be released in the future.


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