The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) has partnered with the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) and a large statewide coalition that opposes House Bill 248 (HB 248), which pertains to vaccinations.
- Authorizing an individual to decline any vaccination on the basis of medical contraindications, “natural immunity,” or reasons of conscience, including religious convictions.
- Prohibiting employers and businesses, among other entities in Ohio, from requiring any vaccination, including childhood immunizations against extremely life-threatening diseases.
A letter, signed by the OAFP and coalition partners, was delivered to members of the Ohio House Health Committee on May 24, and reads as follows:
As organizations representing 1.3 million+ Ohioans, we are gravely concerned by HB 248-11, legislation that puts ALL Ohioans, including children, at risk. Among us are physicians, nurses, health commissioners, hospitals, and business owners who feel moved to firmly voice our shared concerns. At its core, this proposal would destroy our current public health framework that prevents outbreaks of potentially lethal diseases, threaten the stability of our economy as it recovers from a devastating pandemic, and jeopardize the way we live, learn, work, and celebrate life.
The legislature has heard that this bill’s purpose is to prevent the COVID-19 vaccine from becoming mandatory, but HB 248-11 applies to ALL immunizations, including childhood vaccines. 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. In fact, the words “COVID-19” or “coronavirus” are not found anywhere in the bill.
This legislation would also take away the rights of individuals who have businesses in Ohio to implement important safety measures meant to protect their employees, clients, and others. Many businesses have seen enormous fallout as a result of the pandemic and are working to rebuild and move forward. Business owners should each retain the right to carefully evaluate the unique circumstances they face, and make their own determinations about what is best for keeping the workplace healthy and their overall recovery.
As current Ohio law allows for individuals to decline vaccinations for medical, religious, or reasons of conscience (known as the philosophical exemption), we question the need for HB 248-11. This misguided, needless proposal would further strip away accountability and compassion for our fellow Ohioans, and cause severe disruption to our state’s health, economy, and way of life. It is our urgent plea that HB 248-11 be rejected, to protect the vitality of Ohio’s children and families and avoid disastrous consequences for the future of our state.
The House Health Committee begin debate on this bill this week. Proponent testimony is scheduled for this week and next. Opponent testimony is scheduled for Tuesday, June 8. The OAFP will be testifying against passage of this harmful legislation.