Bailey accuses Pritzker of planning COVID-19 vaccine requirement for Illinois school children

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 5:56 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The final countdown is on as Gov. JB Pritzker and Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) are wrapping up their campaign stops before the General Election. Pritzker appeared at Get Out The Vote rallies with the Democratic slate of statewide candidates while Bailey warned parents that the governor will force children to get the COVID-19 vaccine before school next fall.

Despite what Bailey claims, Pritzker said Monday that there are no plans to update the vaccine requirements for school children. The Pritzker administration said it should come as no surprise that Darren Bailey and Attorney General candidate Tom DeVore are once again “playing political games with public health.”

Bailey and DeVore spoke in front of more than 100 women nicknamed the “suburban mama bears.” The group stressed that they don’t want their “cubs” to be vaccinated.

Yet, this isn’t an Election Eve surprise for anyone. Different shots are routinely added to the required vaccine list for schools that people have known about for decades.

The downstate senator claimed Monday that mandating the COVID-19 vaccine would be an experiment on Illinois kids. Bailey said Pritzker uses kids to make political points and is trying to become the most left-wing governor in America.

“He ignores parents in his attempts to vilify parents who dare to speak out and stand up for our children,” Bailey said followed by a round of applause and screaming. “Enough is enough.”

Bailey said those decisions belong to parents with consultation from family physicians. The senator said the days of “top-down authoritarian rule” will be over if he wins the election Tuesday.

“I will not appoint an Illinois Department of Public Health director who will attempt to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine on your children,” Bailey said.

However, Pritzker said everything about Bailey’s campaign has been full of misinformation and untruths.

“He just likes to put things out there hoping that people will believe something and vote for him and vote against it,” Pritzker said at an unrelated rally inside UA Local 137 in Springfield.

The Pritzker administration said the CDC recommended school-age children get the COVID-19 vaccine. Spokesman Alex Gough said the Illinois Department of Public Health is making sure there is a full understanding of the process for adding a vaccine to the existing school requirements in order to answer questions from lawmakers and the public.

“He is lying about what vaccines do. He is not vaccinated himself,” Pritzker said. “He is not someone who believes in mitigations. He’s just putting out something new hoping at the last minute with a desperate attempt to win some votes.”

Still, Bailey and DeVore said Illinois parents can’t trust Pritzker at his word. DeVore read a portion of an email he received through a request under the Freedom of Information Act showing an IDPH official stating they would love to get a better sense of how to mobilize the state’s immunization advisory committee. The IDPH employee said they imagine the department will face continued challenges in promoting vaccines in the long term.

“I’m a well-education person as like most people in this room,” DeVore said. “If you’re going to interpret what does that mean, is anybody interpreting that as they’re not going to try to promote it? No.”

DeVore has characterized himself as an attorney for the people and a leader for the fringe minority who oppose COVID-19 mitigations and vaccines. Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he isn’t worried about losing to DeVore after fighting to defend reproductive rights for women and collective bargaining rights for unions.

“I feel confident in the voters in the state of Illinois, not just the Democratic voters, but he also threatened to go after Republican voters,” Raoul said. “And I want those Republican voters to vote for the right thing as well.”

The Pritzker administration also stated that IDPH staff are doing their jobs, so they are able to answer questions about potentially adding the COVID-19 vaccine to existing requirements.

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