Doctors, health professionals and business groups lined up Tuesday to oppose a bill in the Ohio House that would allow people to opt out of the COVID-19 vaccination nearly two weeks after controversial testimony supporting the bill created nationwide attention.
Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester, introduced the Vaccine Choice & Anti-Discrimination Act in what she called an effort to protect people who choose not to be vaccinated from discrimination due to vaccine status.
The bill caught national attention following a June 10 hearing when Cleveland-area doctor Sherri Tenpenny, along with Joanna Overholt – who said she was a nurse practitioner – each said the COVID-19 vaccine leads to magnetism and causes metal objects to stick to the body of a person after they received the vaccine.
Following that hearing, Gross released a statement that said the bill does not prohibit mandatory vaccines but instead allows for three exemptions.
“In light of recent proponent testimony, I wanted to emphasize that House Bill 248 is a freedom bill. The purpose of HB 248 is to protect medical choice and medical freedom,” Gross said.
At the bill’s fifth hearing Tuesday, Dr. Will Cotton, co-advocacy chair for the Ohio American Academy of Pediatrics, submitted written testimony that said stories of injuries from vaccines come from a small but vocal group. He also said HB 248 would undermine the success of the state’s vaccine program.
“HB 248 if enacted will undermine the current success of Ohio’s vaccine program,” Cotton said. “If vaccines are refused in greater numbers the success of the current program will slowly crumble. Diseases like polio and measles that were only a bad memory will once again become a problem. Then the majority of Ohio will be beating down the statehouse doors to remove a law that was made at the whim of few Ohioans.”
Keith Lake, vice president of government affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, offered a business perspective regarding the reaction if businesses could not require employees to be vaccinated. He did not want to say passing the legislation would mean companies would not select Ohio as a place of doing business but did call it an infringement on their rights.
The next step for the bill will be additional amendments and more hearings, according to chairman Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin. Lipps said in January that he was opposed to forced mandates and employees being terminated or coerced for not getting vaccinated, particularly when they have a medical exemption.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 47.2% of Ohioans have received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday.
This article was originally posted on Ohio vaccine choice bill back in the spotlight