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New 'medical freedom' law outlaws requiring COVID-19 vaccine to access public spaces

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(WASHINGTON) —  New Hampshire residents cannot be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to “access any public facility, any public benefit, or any public service” according to a new bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

The so-called “medical freedom” bill does not override state vaccine law, which “requires that all children enrolled in any school, pre-school, or child care have certain immunizations to protect them and those around them from vaccine preventable diseases,” according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The COVID-19 vaccine is not currently listed as a requirement for attending school, nor is it approved for children younger than 12.

Other exceptions to the new law include correctional facilities, such as jails and prisons, where immunizations can be mandated “when a direct threat exists,” as well as county nursing homes and medical facilities operated by the state.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

New Hampshire’s law stands in contrast to some other parts of the Northeast, which have edged toward mandatory vaccinations in recent days.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that COVID-19 vaccination would be compulsory for all city workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers, starting Sept. 13. City workers will have the option of getting tested weekly for COVID-19 if they choose not to get vaccinated.

“We’re doing this out of a sense of urgency,” de Blasio said. “It is about protecting the workforce, their health and safety, and the people they serve.”

New Hampshire’s vaccination rate is slightly higher than the national average. As of Sunday, 64% of residents had received at least one dose, and 58% were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, 57% of Americans have gotten at least one shot, and 49% are fully vaccinated.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

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