Ohio House Bill 559

Ohio House Bill 559

Ohio House Bill 559 died in the House Health Committee on December 31, 2018. Please keep tabs on our website and social media for further updates on similar future legislation. Meanwhile, please consider making a small donation to help us continue what we do!

Ohio House Bill 559 aims to amend sections 3301.53, 3313.67, 3313.671, and 5104.014 and to enact sections 3701.1310 and 3701.1311 of the Revised Code to make changes to the law governing immunization of children enrolled in school, preschool programs, and day-care programs.

In short, among other things, Ohio HB559 seeks to:

  • Create an immunization tracking and publicizing process — It gives sole authority to the Ohio Department of Health for maintaining and publishing to the public immunization rates and exemption rates by type.
  • Require parents seeking exemptions to consult a physician — Physician or other specified healthcare professional who administers vaccines would be required to sign off on religious and reasons of conscience exemptions, making a medical professional the arbiter of personal beliefs. This is contrary to the Ohio and US Constitutions. CHECK OUT THE EXAMPLE FORM AAP SUBMITTED TO THE HOUSE HEALTH COMMITTEE.
  • Parents who want to decline vaccines are required to be informed of the risks and benefits of vaccination as well as the health risks to the child and community of diseases. There is no information in the bill about what will be on the ODH-developed immunization form, what information will be delivered in terms of risk and benefits, how all of these changes will be paid for in terms of personnel required to keep track of exemptions, and also medical visits for exemption forms.

It’s bad that some legislators don’t seem to read the bills they sponsor, but we hold journalists to a standard of investigation of all the facts and fair reporting of what people say. And let’s just say this this bill isn’t receiving fair and balanced coverage.

We have already addressed the issues with meningitis, the disease “outbreak” that is constantly referenced when proponents discuss this bill, in this note. But to recap: The two deaths in Tuscarawas County were unrelated and from different strains, one not covered in the required vaccine. Rep. Landis’ passion for stopping meningitis doesn’t seem to extend to those who may be harmed by the vaccine itself.

There are some compelling counterpoints to many of the justifications for this bill cited by its proponents:

  • Accuracy of such a form to be verified by a physician is only necessary if parents are NOT declining vaccines.
  • ORC 3313.671 is called “Proof of Immunizations” for a reason. It requires an immunization record OR exemption to be turned into the school. The article makes it sound like there is a form that just relies on parents to indicate which vaccines have been given. Specifically, “the pupil presents written evidence satisfactory to the person in charge of admission, that the pupil has been immunized by a method of immunization approved by the department of health.” Many schools require a shot record, which comes from the doctor or health department. If schools are not doing this correctly, the law should be amended to address that issue, not penalize parents opting out as allowed by law.
  • There is not a standard by which benefits and risks of immunization or risks of diseases is to be explained. This leaves the door open to inaccurate or incomplete information, and even coercion. Contrary to what the article says, there is nothing in the bill language to prevent that, and these lawmakers will not be behind any closed doors listening to every patient/parent/doctor conversation.
  • Why is it so important to report immunization and exemption information? Where are all these masses of students spreading infections? And what about the MAJORITY of infections for which there is no vaccine? What about students who’ve recently gotten a live-virus vaccine that warns about staying away from immunocompromised people for up to 6 weeks to avoid shedding? What about students who get a Tdap or DTaP and can become asymptomatic carriers for upwards of 30+ days? Where is the outrage and concern over all of that? And what safeguards does the bill contain to prevent parents in very small schools/districts from trying to find out which students are not vaccinated? Isn’t saying parents can make “better choices” (as Rep. Gonzales is quoted saying) discriminatory and unfairly presumptive that unvaccinated children are vectors for contagion?
  • There is nothing that we can see in the bill that says a medical professional has to sign the form. What happens if a parent makes an appointment and the practitioner refuses? What about practitioners who have (sometimes very publicly) announced they will not see unvaccinated patients?
  • Many medical professionals have gone on record that they are taught the vaccine schedule and that they are safe, effective, and important to public health. Many have said they went years never knowing there was a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or that vaccine manufacturers were not liable for injuries under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act or that those injuries are compensated in a special court without juries under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Will these professionals be required to undergo some standardized training so they can address all the questions and concerns of parents?

What can you do?

Aside from signing the above electronic letter of opposition, you can contact each of these Representative’s offices asap to express your disapproval of #OhioHB559:

  • Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville), 614-466-4847, rep19@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Al Landis (R-Dover), 614-466-8035, rep98@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Marilyn Slaby (R-Copley), 614-644-5085, rep38@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), 614-466-3735, rep96@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), 614-466-1645, rep32@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City), 614-466-8114, rep80@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), 614-466-8104, rep03@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), 614-466-5921, rep13@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), 614-466-6504, rep42@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. John Barnes, Jr. (D-Cleveland), 614-466-1408, rep12@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), 614-644-6008, rep41@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), 614-644-6030, rep21@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), 614-466-2158, rep94@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Timothy Ginter (R-Salem), 614-466-8022, rep05@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), 614-466-2124, rep90@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown), 614-644-5094, rep53@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus), 614-466-5343, rep25@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudenville), 614-466-2994, rep70@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), 614-466-9435, rep58@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township), 614-466-1731, rep47@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario), 614-466-5802, rep02@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), 614-466-3100, rep34@ohiohouse.gov
  • Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton), 614-466-8030, rep49@ohiohouse.gov