consequences of vaccine choice bill devastating
By: John C. Duby, MD, Vice President, Academic Affairs, Community and Behavioral Health
The Ohio House of Representatives Health Committee is hearing testimony on the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 248-11), which was introduced by Representative Jennifer Gross on April 6, 2021. In her testimony to the Committee on May 18, she stated that while she believes in vaccines and scientific research, she wishes to shield individuals from forced vaccination by outlawing mandates, which will allow Ohioans to opt out of vaccinations. She describes the legislation as a “freedom bill.”
However, this overly broad legislation is a dangerous Trojan Horse, which would have devastating consequences for Ohio’s children and families.
I, along with an extensive coalition of health care and business organizations across Ohio, call for the House Health Committee to reject HB 248-11.
As a pediatrician who has practiced for nearly 40 years, including more than 15 years in the Dayton community, I am gravely concerned about this legislation, which will put ALL Ohioans, including our children, at risk. This proposal would destroy our current public health framework which prevents outbreaks of potentially lethal diseases. Passage of the bill would threaten the stability of our economy, as it recovers from a devastating pandemic, and jeopardize the way we live, learn, work and celebrate life.
- Today, because of vaccinations, most children in the United States lead much healthier lives and parents live with much less anxiety and worry than they did just a few decades ago.
- Immunizations have led to a significant decrease in rates of vaccine-preventable diseases and have made a substantial impact on the health of children.
- Immunizing children is one of the single greatest public health achievements of the last century.
- This legislation removes a key motivating factor for parents to take children to see their health care provider, which will have catastrophic, long-term effects on both the mental and physical health of children and adolescents.
If passed, this legislation has the potential to reverse decades of immunity from life-threatening, but vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, hepatitis and meningitis.
As a young pediatrician, I saw the devastating effects of what are now preventable diseases on a daily basis. I cared for children with infections that caused loss of fingers and toes, deafness, seizures, inability to breath and severe infections in knees and other joints. These diseases are now essentially unheard of due to our advances in vaccine development and scientific research. Many young physicians have never seen these diseases, and yet we continue to have outbreaks of illnesses, like measles, in those who have chosen not to be protected through immunization.
This legislation would take away the rights of individuals, who have businesses in Ohio, to implement important safety measures meant to protect their employees, clients and others. Business owners should retain the right to carefully evaluate the unique circumstances they face and make their own determination about what is best for keeping their workplace healthy.
As current Ohio law allows for school immunization exemptions for medical, religious, or reasons of conscience (known as the philosophical exemption), and most businesses allow for flexibility regarding vaccinations, I question the need for HB 248-11. This sweeping proposal would further strip away accountability and compassion for our fellow Ohioans, and cause severe disruption to our state’s health, economy and way of life. It is my urgent plea that HB 248-11 be rejected, to protect the vitality of Ohio’s children and families, and avoid disastrous consequences for the future of our state.