On May 16, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians members Catherine Romanos, MD, and Nate Overmire, DO, testified before the Ohio House Health Committee in support of House Bill (HB) 559, the Immunization Process Improvement Legislation. HB 559, sponsored by State Representatives Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville, OH) and Al Landis (R-Dover, OH), calls for a streamlined process on how data concerning immunization opt-out is handled and reported, for school-age children.
The OAFP strongly supports HB 559 and encourages OAFP members to contact their state representative asking for their support of HB 559 through the American Academy of Family Physicians Speak Out web site.
- Establishes a universal immunization information form school districts can use and requires a physician, advanced practice nurse, or health department nurse sign the form for all required immunizations for kindergarten, school entry, and grades 7 and 12. This universal form also calls for parents or guardians asking for a vaccine waiver to have a dialogue with a healthcare professional to ensure they have all the appropriate medical and scientific information prior to making health care decisions such as immunizing their child.
- Streamlines how the statewide immunization rates are reported so that public health officials, stakeholders and parents can know the opt-out percentage rate by school building.
Bill sponsors introduced HB 559 to help improve the reliability of Ohio’s immunization data. With a consistent method of data collection, public health officials will have access to more reliable data in case of disease outbreak. The lack of data prevents parents of children who cannot be vaccinated because of allergies or other compromised medical issues, from knowing their potential for exposure from unvaccinated children in the school setting.
The bill would have no impact on a parent or caregiver’s ability to choose to vaccinate, or not. In addition, the legislation does not call for disclosure of a student’s vaccine status or personal identity.
Organizations in addition to the OAFP that support HB 559 include the Parents for Advocating for Vaccines; Every Child by Two; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the National Meningitis Association; the National Organization for Rare Disorders; Voices for Children; the Ohio State Medical Association; the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association; the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners; the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; and the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and Northern Ohio and Immunize Ohio.