N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring state and local governments from punishing workers who refuse COVID vaccine

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FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2021 file photo, a healthcare worker prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday, May 5 advanced a bill through a committee that would prevent state and local governments from punishing workers who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a bill through a committee that would prevent state and local governments from punishing workers who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

State Rep. Jake Johnson says his proposal is necessary to protect state and local workers from being fired or retaliated against for their health choices.

State health officials worry the proposal would conflict with federal rules and create staffing shortfalls if outbreaks occur at state-operated health facilities.

House Bill 686 will need approval in two additional committees before it can go to a full House vote.

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