GOP bill would prohibit requiring vaccinations in Ohio


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Both public entities and private employers would be prohibited from requiring vaccinations and workers could not be fired as a result of refusing, under GOP legislation pending in an Ohio House committee.

The bill before the House Health Committee also strengthens the notices that schools must provide parents about exemptions they can seek against having their children vaccinated. The legislation would also repeal a state law requiring college students to disclose whether they’ve been vaccinated against hepatitis B and meningococcal meningitis.

The legislation never mentions COVID-19 or the coronavirus, but in her testimony about the measure, Gross included multiple references to employers including hospitals requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination as a condition of employment.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jennifer Gross is a nurse practitioner who says she believes in vaccinations and in personal choice.

“We need to protect Ohioans from forced vaccination whether it comes from the government, school, an employer, or even a local retailer,” Gross, a Republican from West Chester in southwestern Ohio, told the Health committee last week. She told fellow lawmakers she has received other vaccinations but not the one for COVID-19.

More than 100 people submitted testimony in favor of the measure to the Health committee, which heard from supporters Tuesday, Gongwer News Service reported.

The bill is strongly opposed by the Ohio Vaccine Coalition, a newly formed group representing numerous hospitals, state associations of doctors and nurses, other health care groups, and major business entities including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

“If passed, this legislation 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 said in a statement.

A message was left with the office of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine seeking comment on the legislation.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press

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