Ohio's Top Doc Says She'll Speak Out On Vaccinations Bill

Oct 7, 2019

The top doctor in state government said she’s concerned about one of at least three bills in the Ohio legislature that opponents say have some dubious medical science behind them.

Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton said she’ll weigh in on vaccinations.

There’s a House bill that would demand schools post information about vaccine exemptions just as they put up immunization requirements. Acton said her agency's goal is to reduce or eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases, though there are exemptions in the immunization law for medical reasons or religious convictions.

“Everything has a risk benefit. But vaccines are the surest, safest way that we can keep our kids healthy. So you’ll see me speak out on that," Acton said.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Don Manning (R-New Middletown), said the bill isn’t anti-vaccine legislation, but that he wants schools to be transparent. 

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control shows Ohio has the 10th lowest rate of immunization for measles for kindergarteners. 8% of those students weren't vaccinated for measles in that study.

There are two other questionable abortion bills. One would require doctors performing medication abortions to tell patients of pills that can reverse them.  The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there's no science behind that, but sponsoring Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said she has anecdotal information that it works.

Another bill would ban insurance coverage of abortion, but its sponsor Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) said in an ectopic pregnancy, it would "allow for removing that embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus so that is defined as not an abortion under this bill."  Doctors say that procedure does not exist and could endanger women experiencing ectopic pregnancy.

Acton said because her agency is facing an unrelated abortion policy lawsuit, she can’t talk about the issue.