Governor Hutchinson took his community chat vaccination roadshow to Mountain Home today and he ran into a buzzsaw of angry and skeptical questions, some based on disinformation.

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One piece of news: The governor revealed possible movement to do something about the new law banning local mask mandates.

He indicated some support for a local option when he was asked about schools by a questioner who said there aren’t adequate protections for children in schools, some too young to be vaccinated and too many others unvaccinated to get completed by the beginning of school.

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Said Hutchinson: “I think from a conservative standpoint you could make the point local school districts should be able to make the decision on what is the best health of students.”

He said he’d meet with House Speaker Matthew Shepherd and Senate President Jimmy Hickey tomorrow on “how we should address that.”  Until there’s a change in the law, however, he said the best path was to encourage vaccinations and encourage the unvaccinated to wear masks.

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To date legislative leaders said there was no consensus in the House and Senate for changing the law, but protests have been increasing, particularly from parents of school children.

Angry audience members were told most of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the state epidemiologist, said there was no evidence the vaccine caused infertility. She said a vaccine is useful even for people who’ve had the illness, particularly mild cases, because of low antibody counts. Also, she said, immunity wanes over time. And she said studies were underway into whether a booster shot might be useful. Cheers came for those in the audience who feel they’d been “naturally” vaccinated by exposure to the virus. Dillaha said repeatedly that those who are vaccinated have higher antibody counts (though research remains to be done on how long they last) and that the antibodies can wane.

“To think someone is permanently immune if they have had the illness is not correct,” Dillaha said.

The governor was cheered when he mentioned the law against mask mandates. But he said he didn’t know what might happen down the road. A lawsuit is planned. The virus is escalating. “No there’s not a mask mandate, there’s not a plan for a mask mandate, but I don’t know what the future holds.”

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He encouraged people to consider vaccinations.

Radio KTLO has a full audio transcript of the show.