South Dakota GOP senators back Noem’s vaccine exemption bill

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A proposal from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to allow employees to gain exemptions from their employer’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates has gained the support of Republicans on a Senate committee. The bill would allow employees to receive an exemption to an employer’s vaccine requirement by citing either a medical exemption, religious grounds or a test showing antibodies against COVID-19 in the last six months. An aide to the Republican governor said the bill sought a middle ground between doctors urging vaccines and groups opposed to mandates altogether. But South Dakota’s rate of 59% of people fully vaccinated lags behind the nationwide rate of 64%.