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Government/Politics

Health Committee Reconvening Early For Bill Banning Vaccine Mandates

yvette_hardy_teacher_at_st_mary_catholic_getting_covid_vaccine_020221_-_konik.jpg
Dan Konik
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The health committee chair says he urged House leadership to allow the members to come back before the end of summer break.

Some members of the Ohio House will be returning to the Statehouse earlier than expected to continue hearings on a bill, HB248, that would ban vaccine mandates for most entities.

Republican leadership in the House granted approval for the health committee to reconvene at the request of committee chair Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin)

The bill would prohibit entities such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, businesses and more from mandating people to get vaccines. This means all vaccines, not just the COVID-19 shot.

Lipps' office sent out guidance for people to submit testimony for the August 24 hearing which will last four hours.

Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), the bill's sponsor and a nurse practitioner, says the legislation is about giving people the right to choose what goes into their body.

"I'm not anti-vaccination, but nothing's 100%. So if you believe a vaccine works for you, get the vaccine. But that's your freedom to choose," says Gross. "There's something inherently objectionable about having to roll up your sleeve to get something into your body that cannot be removed."

But opponents of the bill say vaccine mandates help keep employees and students safe from all types of diseases.

Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) is a doctor and a professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in the Division of Hospital Medicine at Ohio State University.

Liston argues that HB248 prevents businesses and organizations from making their own decisions on how to handle a public health issue.

"It keeps businesses from saying, 'you know what, we know that our employees are at risk and we want to make sure that they're protected' and it prevents businesses from enacting those common sense measures within the workplace for both the employees and maybe anyone who interacts with the business," says Liston. "I think, constrains anyone from having a smart and evidence-based response to public health emergencies."

Liston and other opponents of the bill also point to false statements made by proponents of the bill during prior committee hearings, such as a claim that the COVID-19 vaccine makes people magnetic.