Iowa Republicans blast Biden’s vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden launched a COVID-19 action plan on Thursday, which includes vaccine mandates for millions of federal workers and health care workers.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers a speech during The Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, July 16, 2021. Members of the crowd cheered when Gov. Reynolds brought up legislation that banned mask mandates in public schools.

Natalie Dunlap, Politics Editor

Iowa Republicans criticized President Joe Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate on Thursday, calling the move an overreach of the federal government. 

Biden will require all employees of businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or face regular testing, he said in a live address on Thursday. The action plan also includes vaccine mandates for most federal workers, federal contractors, and for more than 17 million health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid hospitals and health care settings. 

In his announcement, Biden said patience was wearing thin for those who haven’t taken the vaccine yet. According to the president’s COVID-19 action plan, almost 80 million eligible Americans are still unvaccinated. 

“This is not about freedom or personal choice, it’s about protecting yourself and those around you,” Biden said.

Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said the requirements will worsen the workforce and limit economic recovery. 

“As I’ve said all along, I believe and trust in Iowans to make the best health decisions for themselves and their families. It’s time for President Biden to do the same. Enough is enough,” Reynolds wrote on Twitter. 

Reynolds has been hesitant to issue mask or vaccine mandates throughout the pandemic. An Iowa law signed in May prohibits government entities from mandating vaccination, and another piece of legislation she signed into law in May bans schools from enforcing mask mandates is under investigation by the US Department of Education.

In Iowa, 61.4 percent of people aged 12 and up have been fully vaccinated, according to the state’s coronavirus website. There have been 30 deaths in the state in the seven days due to COVID-19, and in the last 14 days tests have had a 8.9 percent positivity rate. There are 578 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, 158 in ICU, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Individuals not fully vaccinated account for 88 percent of COVID-19 patients in ICU. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote that he encouraged vaccinations, but said it should be a choice. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, who administered vaccines in the second congressional district, also said she encouraged the vaccination, but opposed the mandate. 

“Deeply opposed to federal mandate requiring Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccines,” Miller Meeks wrote on Twitter. “I gave COVID-19 vaccines in #IA02 & encourage adult vaccination & speaking with doctor with concerns.”