House Bill (HB) 218, the anti-vaccine bill that passed the Ohio House of Representatives on November 18, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate General Government Budget Committee on Tuesday, December 7.
Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) board member Nathaniel Overmire, DO, submitted opposition testimony in behalf of the OAFP for the consideration of the committee. The text of the testimony appears below:
“Chairman Peterson, Vice Chair Wilson, Ranking Member Craig and all members of the Senate Government Budget Committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today on HB 218. My name is Dr. Overmire and I am an osteopathic family physician, serving on the OAFP Board of Directors. I am submitting this testimony today on behalf of the OAFP which represents family physicians across the state.”
“HB 218 is bad for business. And it is an overreach of government. By not allowing employers, and especially healthcare organizations, to enact common sense workplace rules, we risk continued undue harm to our staff and those we serve. As a physician, I do everything I can to protect my patients from undue harm. After all, a physician’s oath is ‘First, do no harm.’ It is my responsibility to be informed and practice evidence-based medicine so that my patients have the best possible outcomes.”
“As the pandemic enters another surge, hospitals are again overwhelmed, and we should be doing everything we can to contain the spread of this disease which has plagued us for almost two years. I praise healthcare organizations’ efforts to create common sense workplace rules. Employers’ right to manage their workplaces free of undue interference from all levels of government must be protected.”
“Our healthcare organizations should be allowed to use the safe and effective tools that we have. We should not be sidelined while this pandemic continues to ravage our hospitals and clinics. Our healthcare organizations, as well as other private businesses, should be allowed to monitor the needs of its employees and those that we serve to make decisions based on science and facts, not through politics.”
“Our private organizations should be free, along with other health care facilities, nursing homes, schools and other businesses, to protect our own workers and those that use our facilities so that we can prevent costly service interruptions. These interruptions can be devastating and costly. The loss of life or debilitation is staggering. And by implementing common sense workplace rules, we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 while also being role models in keeping our patients and communities healthy.”
“I urge this committee to keep businesses safe and not pass a senate version of this bill. We must be responsible adults and continue to create safe places of employment that lets employees be healthy and thrive along with those that we serve.”
- Prohibit mandates for COVID-19 or other vaccines using mRNA technology (COVID-19 is only vaccine currently using mRNA)
- For other mandated vaccines, require employers to offer the following exemptions: medical, natural immunity, religious, and philosophical
- Sunset the mandatory exemptions effective Tuesday, September 30, 2025
- Employees working in a children’s hospital or intensive care unit (ICU) are not covered by the mandatory exemptions, though hospitals must make a “good faith effort” to keep these workers employed in a different unit or capacity in the facility
- Require the Ohio Workers’ Comp system to cover COVID-19 related vaccine injuries if mandated by an employer (also sunsets in 2025)
- Prohibit any public or private entity from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccine status for entry
- Extend civil immunity protections previously included in HB 606 (133rd) through Friday, June 30, 2023.
Thank you for your testimony, Dr. Overmire!