• House Bill 98 would make long overdue changes to prohibit state and local governments, public schools, and universities from requiring Covid vaccination or discriminating against the unvaccinated, and it would also protect schoolchildren from being forced to wear masks
  • Those are important protections because Gov. Cooper’s vaccination order was always an antiscientific mandate, and with Covid endemic the choice should be as private and voluntary as getting a flu shot
  • Forcing masks on schoolchildren has numerous long-term psychological, physical, social, developmental, and academic harms, but some school and public officials want to bring them back even now

A bill filed in the North Carolina General Assembly would prohibit state agencies, cities, counties, state government political subdivisions, state and local public health agencies, public health officials, public colleges and universities, and public schools (including charter schools) from requiring vaccination against Covid-19 for employment or enrollment or for discriminating against people who would not submit to Covid-19 vaccination. House Bill 98 as filed would also forbid public schools from forcing face masks on students and quarantining healthy students.

The bill would make long overdue changes to prevent any further harms against North Carolinians by panicked and ill-considered dictates and also restore people’s freedom to make medical decisions for themselves. After all, the putative societal benefits of the vaccine and face-mask mandates were never strong enough to override people’s freedom to decide these matters for themselves.

The societal benefits of the vaccine and face-mask mandates were never strong enough to override people’s freedom to decide these matters for themselves.

Antiscientific vaccine mandate

From the outset, Cooper’s vaccine mandate for workers in state agencies under his control (first leveled on August 10, 2021) ignored legitimate concerns about the Covid vaccines. The vaccines were rushed under Emergency Use Authorization, under which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency” (emphasis added). On top of that, they were messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, a new type of vaccine never before licensed for use in the U.S., which — as initially explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — cause our own cells “to make a protein — or even just a piece of a protein — that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.”

Furthermore, Cooper’s vaccine mandate never made allowance for naturally acquired immunity to Covid-19, an antiscience oversight that ignored the very origin of vaccination. Anyone who has naturally acquired immunity against Covid already satisfies whatever public health interest there would be in their being vaccinated — i.e., their immune system is geared to fight off a future Covid infection.

Reams upon reams of research (30 studies by mid-October 2021, 91 as of late October 2021, and 160-plus at last count) was finding natural immunity to Covid to be at least as strong as — and likely much, much stronger than — vaccine-induced immunity. Most recently, a Lancet systematic review and meta-analysis released in February 2023 found that naturally acquired immunity’s “the level of protection against re-infection, symptomatic disease, and severe disease appears to be at least as durable, if not more so, than that provided by two-dose vaccination with the mRNA vaccines for ancestral, alpha, delta, and omicron BA.1 variants (Nassereldine H et al, unpublished), which is also seen from studies directly comparing natural immunity to vaccine-induced protection” (emphasis added).

Nevertheless, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) fired Kendall Klett, an asbestos inspector and environmental expert, for refusing to submit to vaccination because she had natural immunity, knew the research, and was uncertain about the risks of vaccination when she knew it would provide her no medical benefit.

Meanwhile, mounting evidence from DHHS data showed that the vaccines were not providing as strong an immune protection as naturally acquired infection. In response, DHHS stopped publishing those data.

The last update of those data (in April 2022) showed that over half of the new cases of Covid that week had occurred to people fully vaccinated or boosted. Previous weeks had shown that 55.7 percent of new cases were post-vaccination infections, whereas only 7.7 percent were reinfections to people with natural immunity who had not been vaccinated (36.6 percent were to people who had never been previously infected and had not been vaccinated).

New cases of Covid-19 by vaccination status, Jan. 29–Feb. 26, 2022 (prior to DHHS stopping publication of those data)

At the same time, Cooper had continued to re-up his vaccination mandate, which was in place until August 15, 2022, when he rescinded his original declaration of a state of emergency.

Since then, there have been troubling reports of greater harms from the Covid vaccines and boosters. For instance, as of February 24, 2023, there were 1,527,370 reports of adverse outcomes involving Covid vaccines and boosters to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). They included 34,576 deaths, 193,318 hospitalizations, 63,862 recipients permanently disabled, 26,541 cases reporting myocarditis/pericarditis, 18,706 heart attacks, 36,812 other life-threatening events, 15,490 cases of shingles, and 4,941 miscarriages.

CDC research admitted to a “high verification rate of reports of myocarditis to VAERS after mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccination,” which also meant the actual rates of myocarditis are “likely higher than estimated.”

While those are unverified reports that may not all prove to be attributable to the vaccines, CDC research admitted to a “high verification rate of reports of myocarditis to VAERS after mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccination.” This finding meant that it is more likely that vaccine-related myocarditis has been underreported, not overreported, so that “the actual rates of myocarditis per million doses of vaccine are likely higher than estimated.”

The CDC research concluded that,

the risk of myocarditis after receiving mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines was increased across multiple age and sex strata and was highest after the second vaccination dose in adolescent males and young men. This risk should be considered in the context of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination.

The negative impacts from the shots seem to be worst for young males, young people in general, and working-age adults. The vaccines are still under EUA. In the meantime, the virus has long since reached the endemic stage. Covid vaccination should be regarded a private matter of choice in the same way as is a flu shot.

Nevertheless the threat of coercion remains, the expected societal benefits from forced Covid vaccination is very low, while the expected harms range but are still widely unknown.

Harmful school mask orders

Cooper’s mask order, which he first imposed against North Carolinians in a June 24, 2020 order, made even stricter in a November 23, 2020 order, and didn’t begin lifting until May 14, 2021 (and that was in service to the political needs of the Biden administration; the day before he had testily told reporters he planned to keep it in place for at least two more months).

While Cooper lifted his mask order for most North Carolinians, a group he chose to keep under mask tyranny was schoolchildren. He didn’t end his mask order for them until July 29, 2021 — but even then he pressured schools to keep requiring masks. Nearly every school system in the state did, and most didn’t get rid of them till after Cooper recommended it on February 17, 2022.

Tellingly, a week later, Cooper vetoed the “Free the Smiles Act” that would have let parents decide whether their child should wear a mask in school and prevent “unmasked” children from facing harassment and discrimination by school officials. Essentially, the children are not free, only under temporary reprieve.

As demonstrated thoroughly here, Cooper’s mask orders lacked scientific justification. They ignored research consensus pre-Covid that masks are ineffective against airborne viruses. Nevertheless, media accepted without question Cooper’s justification of “science and data,” making trusting adults believe that the science for this virus was somehow different.

Even the studies used by the Cooper administration to justify the orders, didn’t. See our review of all the Cooper studies here: Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Some of Cooper’s studies directly cautioned against mask uses ordered by Cooper, including using cloth masks (which could actually increase the risk of infection), wearing them for several hours (such as across the school day), putting them on small children who would constantly touch them, and wearing them while participating in strenuous exercise (gyms) and sports (such as in school sports and physical education).

The recent 362-page Cochrane Library review of mask studies reiterated preexisting research that face masks were ineffective. Wearing a medical or surgical mask “may make little to no difference” from not wearing a mask at all, and even wearing N95/P2 respirators “may make little to no difference” from wearing medical or surgical masks.

Nevertheless, a dedicated set of “forever-maskers” want to keep everyone, but especially schoolchildren, in face masks always. As our reviews linked above demonstrated, several of Cooper’s selected mask studies specifically sought to convert Western and American attitudes away from individual liberty and towards compulsory masking in order to be more in line with that of Asian cultures, such as China’s.

Forcing masks on schoolchildren was shown to have numerous long-term psychological, physical, social, developmental, and academic harms. A looming threat to revisit them on future students must not be countenanced.


For those reasons, H.B. 98 would add important safeguards in law for North Carolinians. Freedom, science, and data all support protecting the “unvaccinated” against discrimination and students from being forced into face masks ever again.