Proposed Ohio bill blocking employer discrimination based on vaccination brings debate


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Debate is surrounding a proposed bill in the legislature, House Bill 268, which would prevent employers from taking any adverse action against a person who has not been or will not be vaccinated.

Parents and physicians gathered at the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday to voice their concerns over whether vaccinations should be medically mandated or if there should be a right to choose.

Among parents who voiced concerns were Rishanne and Doug Golden of Marysville. They say they believe a vaccine combined with others their daughter, Haleigh, received as a child was working against their daughter's body.

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Haleigh, who her parents say was vaccinated against meningitis, was 20 years old when she died following a seizure in November of last year.

"We were never told and most pediatricians and most doctors were never educated about vaccines they were just told to follow the CDC schedule," Rishanne said.

By the time a child is 18 years old, they can receive 72 doses of vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control dosing schedule.

The medical community and public health officials say vaccines save lives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, "Vaccines protect children's health and save lives. They prevent life-threatening diseases, including forms of cancer. Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are the most significant medical innovation of our time. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives."

The CDC says vaccination throughout childhood is essential to provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

"Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages," the CDC went on to say on its website.

Robert Kennedy Jr., who visited Columbus, is pushing for the government to study vaccine safety but says he's not anti-vaccine.

"Of the 72 vaccines that are currently mandated for our children. not a single one has been safety tested against a placebo. I don't think we should be mandating medical interventions for our children without knowing what the risk of the product is, The CDC should not regulating vaccines. This agency is too tied in financially with the vaccine industry," he says.

Last month, Kennedy’s sister, brother and niece published an opinion column, saying he is wrong about vaccines.

"And (Kennedy's) and others’ work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences. The challenge for public health officials right now is that many people are more afraid of the vaccines than the diseases, because they've been lucky enough to have never seen the diseases and their devastating impact. But that’s not luck; it’s the result of concerted vaccination efforts over many years. We don’t need measles outbreaks to remind us of the value of vaccination," the piece read in part.

In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which provides that no vaccine manufacturer shall be held liable in a civil action for damages arising from vaccine-related injury or death resulting from unavoidable side effects or solely due to to the manufacturer's failure to provide direct warnings.

Another bill, House Bill 166, would allow private schools to refuse to enroll students who don't meet immunization requirements, even if the parent has chosen not to immunize because of "reason of conscience," including religious convictions.

Public schools can already deny enrollment if students don't have evidence of receiving required shots by 14 days into the school year. State law provides exemptions for medical reasons or “reasons of conscience," including religious reasons.