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Using a chart at the testimony table, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. left, and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry testify in front of a packed house during an oversight hearing in the Louisiana House's Health and Welfare Committee on Gov. John Bel Edwards' plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the required immunization schedule for students at K-12 schools.

The State Capitol is once again the scene of crowds of people agitated by disinformation about vaccines and lily-livered legislators afraid to say “no” to pandemic paranoia.

This time, it was before the so-called Health and Welfare Committee in the House. Members voted 13-2 Monday to oppose a rule from the Louisiana Department of Health to add coronavirus vaccines to the long list of required protections for the health and welfare of our schoolchildren.

The rule is not dead. Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will push ahead to make the safe and effective coronavirus vaccines part of public school requirements, starting with students age 16 and above, and eventually covering all students whose families approve.

And that last part is vital because you would not know it from the reckless disregard for the facts shown by GOP legislative leaders at the hearing. Parents and guardians of schoolchildren can today fill out a brief form to avoid vaccinations, although that’s an element of danger for the child and for fellow students.

Nevertheless, Louisiana has among the most generous and easiest opt-out provisions among the states. That’s maybe not a badge of honor, in light of a deadly global pandemic, but that those provisions exist shows the political nature of the vehement anti-vaccine testimony before the committee.

We are appalled that Attorney General Jeff Landry would associate himself with the testimony of social media propagandist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who called coronavirus protection “the deadliest vaccine ever made.” It is shameful that the great name of Kennedy’s father is dishonored in this way.

What is next? A Jeff Landry-branded cure for cancer, made from peach pits?

That makes as much sense as opposing vaccinations, whatever the camouflage of more intelligent politicians, who say that they are concerned about “the process” of adding the vaccines to the school list.

Legislators often whine about “the process” when they don’t want to face the facts of a difficult vote.

All too often at the State Capitol, the actual votes of members really don’t matter to the issue at hand. The nine Republicans, four Democrats and one unaffiliated lawmaker who opposed the “mandate” were well aware that they could appease the crowd in front of them by their votes. Then, Edwards — and presumably Landry, on the side of spreading viruses — could fight out the issue in the courts.

But the mob mentality of the hearing showed how desperately unhinged from reality has become the coronavirus crisis — and it is still very much a crisis. The world does not know the full implications of yet another variant identified first in South Africa, but there is no question that today’s vaccinations will save lives of the people, especially the children, who take them.

The state’s chief health officer, Dr. Joe Kanter, deserves the praise of Louisiana voters of all stripes of good sense. He identified the issues which were so distorted by others at the hearing and responded with facts.

But it is the nature of politics, especially legislative politics, that the facts are not as relevant as the concerns, fears, agitation of a minority of voters. They care deeply, however much — as in this case — they may be wrong. And legislators are loathe to allow themselves to get on the wrong side of those who pack a committee hearing and, given today’s environment, have a disproportionate impact politically, for Republicans and Democrats in office.

Suffice to say, we should call this committee that of “Health” and Welfare, with highly skeptical quote marks around the name.

Louisiana lawmakers ask Gov. John Bel Edwards to reject rule adding COVID vaccine to school shot list