Written by: Ebony Davenport and Michael Bly
A local legislator is pushing a bill that would require schools notify parents of the circumstances in which a student may be exempt from immunizations. Rep. Don Manning (R., Poland) wants officials to explain to parents that there are exceptions to the immunization requirements if there are medical reasons making immunization unnecessary or if the parent, for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions, does not want the child to be immunized.
Rep. Don Manning (R., Poland) stated that, “the intent of the bill is to make sure people are given the correct information.” He said HB 132 was prompted by complaints he heard of school districts misinforming parents of their options. The bill comes as measles outbreaks have been reported in at least six states. Specific areas in Texas with low vaccination rates have experienced an increase in measles, a virus which can largely be avoided with a vaccine. Public health officials in Ohio oppose HB 132, believing that it will put the state at an increased risk for a measles outbreak.
Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom, a statewide interest group promoting Ohioan’s right to refuse medical treatment or procedure, have expressed support for HB 132. According to the group, the proposed exemption bill will not change existing vaccine mandates in Ohio. Instead, it would require school officials to explain exemption options when they explain vaccine mandates. The Ohio American Academy of Pediatrics, a group of pediatric professionals promoting the health and safety of children and adolescents, have expressed disapproval of HB 132. According the group, HB 132 gives parents a “convenience waiver” to skip vaccinations and reporting rather than educating them. Instead, the group believes that the bill will lead to lower immunization rates and costly outbreaks across the state.
This is not the only vaccination-related bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly. House Bill 268, otherwise referred to as the “Medical Consumer Protection Act,” would prohibit an employer from taking an adverse employment action against employees who have not or will not be vaccinated. Proponents of HB 268 say they are skeptical of the safety and efficacy of vaccines. While opponents of the bill say that it puts patients at risk, if healthcare professionals go unvaccinated and pass on life-threatening diseases. Similar proposals targeting exemptions from flu shots have failed in committee in previous General Assembly sessions.
If you are concerned about how this pending legislation may impact you, your children, or work life, the attorneys of Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling are prepared to assist. If you have any questions or simply wish to discuss this bill or any other State vaccination matter, please contact us at (937) 223-1130.