A recent editorial from the Columbus Dispatch:
Dear Ohio Lawmakers,
Here are a few things to think about as you prepare to rush back to the Statehouse early from your summer break to consider a bill that would prohibit community and business leaders from requiring vaccinations as they see fit to keep people safe from a deadly illness:
— COVID cases are surging in areas of Ohio and across the nation where the vaccination rate is low and mask-wearing is not embraced. The transmission rate is “high” in Ohio, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest measurement, and the same is true in all but 10 states as of Wednesday (and the other 10 have the second-highest rating of “substantial”).
— According to Wednesday’s data on the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker website, the United States has seen 35,991,203 COVID cases since the pandemic began in January 2020, resulting in 615,778 deaths – a loss so significant that it would be equivalent to losing most of the combined populations of Cleveland and Cincinnati.
— In Ohio, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard through Wednesday, 20,580 of our neighbors, friends and loved ones have died because of COVID.
— At this point, 10% of the state’s population has been infected. That’s 1,145,925 cases, according to the Wednesday state dashboard, and Franklin County, the county where you lawmakers do business, has the dubious distinction of recording the highest number of cases of any Ohio county – 132,759 — by more than 13,600 over the second-highest total (Cuyahoga, 119,108).
— And Ohio has recorded 62,734 hospitalizations through Wednesday, the state’s dashboard said, affecting the health of the patients, potentially affecting the health of hospital staff members and costing insurance companies and taxpayers millions of dollars in health care bills.
The Republicans among you who are pushing for a prohibition on vaccination requirements also should consider the obvious conflict between your party’s longstanding championing of local control at the same time you consider stripping away local control on this important matter.
Because government has failed to apply needed protective measures, all hospital systems in Columbus and Cincinnati already have taken the wise move to mandate vaccinations in an effort to keep people safe and stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Elsewhere, the Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, or sooner if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise due to the delta variant.
Cardinal Health, one of Ohio’s biggest companies, will require its office and administrative employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 4.
And because you, our elected officials, have chosen not to set policies to protect us, some entertainment venues are requiring proof of vaccination to enter the establishments – chiefly to protect the health and safety of the precious few employees they have.
So instead of being able to enjoy the kind of government inspections and enforcement we readily accept when it comes to food safety in the same establishments, we are already on our own when it comes to protection against the spread of COVID.
It will only get worse if you prohibit community and business leaders from requiring vaccination. And that’s not only as it applies to COVID, but for any communicable disease, because the prohibition in House Bill 248 would apply to all vaccines, not just COVID-19 shots.
That would be irresponsible, opening society – especially the most vulnerable, such as infants and the elderly – to the possible return of potentially fatal illnesses that have been virtually wiped out by our nation’s successful immunization programs.
As you know, four hours of testimony from opponents and proponents of House Bill 248 are scheduled for Aug. 24. Testimony must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Aug. 20.
The bill would prohibit virtually anyone from requiring a vaccine, even employers such as hospitals, and would forbid “discriminatory treatment” based on vaccination status. It also would require schools to notify parents that children can be exempted from vaccines.
House Bill 248 is brought to you by Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester Township, and it’s the same bill that made Ohio the laughingstock of the nation when Dr. Sherri Tenpenny falsely claimed in a June hearing that COVID-19 vaccines cause people to become magnetized.
Please remember that leaders in Ohio’s medical and business communities have condemned the bill as an overreach and dangerous.
Also keep in mind that, for good reason, schools and colleges routinely require vaccination against a host of diseases that can and have crippled or killed thousands of people in the past: polio, meningitis, tetanus, mumps, measles, hepatitis, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), rotavirus, chickenpox and diphtheria.
We know that vaccinations have become a flashpoint in recent years for a small but very vocal minority of people, and we respectfully ask you to do the right thing and stand with science and the experience of decades of immunization in this country.
It has been a point of patriotism and pride for Americans for these many decades to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our friends, our classmates and our co-workers by taking a shot to stop the spread of illness.
We need to rekindle that patriotism and care for our fellow humans in ways that put the good of the many above the good of the one or the few. We need leaders who not only are willing to say no to House Bill 248, but also to put in place the policies that truly will protect public health.
— Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 12