Bill would prevent vaccine requirements in Ohio

Lawmakers from Greater Cincinnati are pushing proposed legislation that would prevent Ohio...
Lawmakers from Greater Cincinnati are pushing proposed legislation that would prevent Ohio businesses and schools from requiring vaccines(Source: CNN)
Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 4:44 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 5:01 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Some lawmakers from Greater Cincinnati are pushing proposed legislation that would prevent Ohio businesses and schools from requiring vaccines.

State Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester Township) is the main sponsor of House Bill 248, the “Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act.”

Two other local lawmakers, State Reps. Tom Brinkman (R-Mt. Lookout) and Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason), are co-sponsoring proposal.

Gross issued a statement this week calling House Bill 248 “a Freedom Bill.”

Coronavirus is not mentioned in the bill, which would cover all vaccines.

“The purpose of H.B. 248 is to protect medical choice and medical freedom. I also want to clarify that H.B. 248 does not prohibit mandatory vaccines – instead, the bill allows for all individuals to have three exemptions to all vaccines,” her statement reads.

“In addition, the bill authorizes an individual to bring a civil action if the individual believes a violation has occurred. I will continue advocating for this critical legislation as hearings proceed in the House Health Committee.”

House Bill 248 comes as local, state and national officials try to increase Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination rates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine spoke out against the bill during a news conference last week when he introduced the state’s third Vax-a-Million lottery winners.

“I think its important for us to remember what great strides have been made, how our lives have been changed by vaccines,” he said.

More than 5 million Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ohio has 1,107,521 confirmed and probable cases since the pandemic began last year, hospitalizing 59,982 people and causing 20,122 deaths, according to the latest figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Health.

About 1,077,557 people are presumed to have recovered from the illness in the state.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, is now a “variant of concern.” The designation means researchers believe the variant is more transmissible, can cause more severe disease or reduce effectiveness of vaccines or treatments.

Ohio healthcare providers have sent a letter to lawmakers cautioning House Bill 248 would “destroy our current public health framework” and has the “potential to reverse decades of immunity from life-threatening, but vaccine-preventable diseases” such as measles, mumps, hepatitis, meningitis, and tuberculosis.”

The group, which includes the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, Ohio State Medical Association, and Ohio Association of Child Care Providers, also point out in their letter that Ohio law already allows for school immunization exemptions for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. “Most businesses allow for flexibility in regard to vaccinations,” they said.

The proposed legislation drew national headlines recently after a known conspiracy theorist who has spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, a licensed physician in Ohio and author of “Saying No to Vaccines,” testified about the bill during the June 8 House Health Committee meeting.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized,” Tenpenny said. “You can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. You can put spoons and forks all over and they can stick because now we think there is a metal piece to that.”

State Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) has cautioned House Bill 248 is “complete craziness.”

“Ohio was once a leader in public health. Albert Sabin developed the first polio vaccine at Cinci Children’s,” she said in one tweet. “Now, bills that will lead to outbreaks and death are center stage and conspiracy theorists are brought in as ‘experts’. Ohioans deserve better.”

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