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River Valley woman says she's denied jobs because of COVID vaccination status

Julia Blume says she is unable to get fully vaccinated due to an adverse reaction to one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

ARKANSAS, USA — A River Valley woman says she is being impacted by COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Julia Blume told 5NEWS that she has been denied several jobs because she’s not fully vaccinated against the virus. She says she can’t receive the vaccine because she’s allergic.

Blume has been working as a substitute teacher since October of 2020 and has been looking for full-time work since August. Around the same time, President Biden mandated across the nation that companies with 100 or more employees require workers to be fully vaccinated.

“I’ve had three people already tell me no,” Blume said. “They need somebody fully vaccinated."

Blume says she had the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine but had a rare adverse reaction to the shot, saying she couldn’t breathe after being vaccinated.

“I had an overactive immune response,” she said.

According to Blume, she was treated with steroids and inhalers for the adverse reaction to the vaccine and says that the doctor advised that it wouldn’t be safe for her to get the second dose since they weren’t sure what had caused the reaction. She says she is now being monitored by the CDC since her reaction to the vaccine was so unusual.

In the meantime, she’s still only partially vaccinated and is now having difficulty finding work.

“What are we going to do if nobody is going to allow them to work? Who’s going to pay their bills? Who’s going to support them?" asked Blume. “That’s my fear…that I’m going to end up homeless.”

However, with bills passing at the Arkansas Capitol, Blume says she’s hopeful.

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, a House committee approved Senate Bill 739. This bill allows employees to be exempt if they submit a weekly negative COVID-19 test, or prove they have antibodies to fight the virus. It now heads of to the House to be voted on, but not without debate.

“Some say businesses and government are trying to control people, I say they are trying to protect, it’s what public health policy is for,” said State Representative Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock). 

McCullough says it seems what Arkansas is doing is counterproductive.

However, those like Blume are thankful for the potential bills.

“I think that everybody should be entitled to that right,” Blume said. “Just to be able to take a test and go to work. I mean everybody wants to work, support themselves.”

House Bill 1977 will be heard in the Senate committee on public health, welfare and labor Wednesday, Oct. 6. Senate Bill 739 will also be heard in the House Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Governor Asa Hutchinson will hold a weekly COVID-19 conference Wednesday and it's expected that he will be addressing these bills.

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