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A second hearing on Ohio’s Substitute House Bill 248, the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act, has been scheduled after nearly 700 Ohioans last week submitted testimony in support of the bill. The hearing will take place Tuesday, June 8 at 10 a.m. ET at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), has garnered overwhelming support among Ohioans concerned about vaccine mandates, vaccine passports and discrimination — so much support that a second hearing had to be scheduled to allow for additional testimony.

The Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act does not ban childhood vaccinations, nor does it prevent any individual or entity from making recommendations. It merely aims to ensure students, parents and legal guardians are aware of their existing rights to exempt pursuant to section 3313.671 of the Ohio Revised Code, among other provisions that seek to prevent discrimination based on vaccination status in public and private sectors.

Senate Bill 169, introduced in late April by State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware), also aims to protect Ohioans from vaccine mandates, passports and discrimination in the public and private sectors.

What Ohioans can do to support these bills:

  1. Contact members of the health committees in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate and ask them to vote in support of HB 248 and SB 169.
  2. Urge your elected officials to support HB 248 and SB 169. Find your legislators here: Ohio House + Ohio Senate.
  3. Contact the primary sponsor of each bill to thank them for sponsoring the bills. Request to sign up for the House and Senate Health committees email correspondences to receive timely updates on scheduled hearings concerning the bills. Contact: State Rep. Jennifer Gross at Rep52@ohiohouse.gov and Sen. Brenner at Brenner@ohiosenate.gov.

Lawmakers, physicians, parents testify at jam-packed hearing

At the House hearing on May 25 for HB 248, Gross addressed the room full of supporters, including doctors, nurses, biomedical engineers, pharmacists, infectious disease experts and people from all walks of life.

“I’m so thankful you are here. I want you to realize that you are the people, and the people are the power and heart behind this legislation,” she said.

Infectious disease expert, Dr. Sunil Bhat, was among those who testified at the hearing.

He said:

“As a practicing infectious disease physician, I recognize the importance of shared decision making between clinicians and their patients. Indeed, the American Medical Association’s list of patients’ rights codifies the importance of self-determination. Section B of Sub. H.B. 248 merely restates what we all know to be true: Patients make the best choices for their health when they are informed and empowered, as opposed to coerced …

“I have worked to build relationships with my patients, some of whom come from sectors of society which do not have high levels of trust with the medical profession. I would be loath to see any of their private medical decisions made public, or see them discriminated against for having chosen a path of care that was best for them. I believe that this bill is timely in that it will send a message that we do believe in the fundamental right to autonomy.”