RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Hundreds of people who oppose vaccine mandates gathered on Jones Street in Raleigh Tuesday and chanted "558" outside the General Assembly.
"This bill is to protect the citizens of North Carolina, as a non-partisan issue," one woman at the gathering told ABC11. "For us to be protected, to not have mandated vaccines, or mandated vaccine ID cards, or vaccine passports."
HB558's sponsor is Larry Pittman, a Republican who represents Cabarrus County.
"This bill is about defending your freedom to make that decision for yourself. It's about telling businesses that they don't have the right to discriminate against you if you do not get the shot," he said.
No bills have been filed that would mandate vaccinations in the state and no state leaders have indicated that would be the case.
"It's nothing other than a civil rights issue," said Stephanie Parsons, a hair stylist who claims her son became ill after receiving required childhood vaccinations.
"This is no different, when you say no mask, no service? It's no different from no vax no service, no different than no whites no service, no different from no Blacks no service, no different from no trans no service. It's the same thing," she said. "It's discrimination! Not only that, they put the non masked people on one side, they put the masked people on another side. This is no different than the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is a law that protects all of us and our liberties. I'm a mother of a child that was vaccine injured, which is why I wear this shirt. Because that child had brain swelling at nine months old, due to his vaccinations. Why should we ever inject something into our bodies that could possibly harm us? It goes against the Nuremberg code of ethics, it goes against, when you talk about the Tuskegee Project? Remember that? That was a big deal. People were experimented on, without true consent."
More than 245 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the U.S. as of this week and the CDC reports that they are safe and effective. They've been required to meet the FDA's standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality and any serious side effects that have been reported are rare.
The CDC also reports that serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely.
Tuesday's organizers urged participants to communicate their concerns to lawmakers electronically and, if possible, face-to-face.
Supporters of bill opposing vaccine mandate in NC gather outside General Assembly