Public schools cannot require COVID-19 vaccine, DeWine signed bill into law

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Governor DeWine Wednesday signed a bill that includes a provision banning schools and universities from requiring vaccines approved for use under an emergency use authorization.

“Bills like this undermine all of the science that has gone into this and the millions of doses that have been given and the countless lives that have been saved,” said Rep. Beth Liston, (D) Upper Arlington.

The original version of House Bill 244 dealt with educational opportunities and enrollment for children of military members. It was amended in the final hours before lawmakers left for summer break.

The amendment says public schools, colleges or universities can’t require a vaccine that does not have full FDA approval. Currently, that includes the COVID-19 vaccine, which has emergency authorization.

“I don’t think that you ever need to forcibly make somebody do something against their will in this country, that’s just not how we were founded,” said Rep.
Ron Ferguson, (R) Wintersville.

The amendment also says schools cannot “discriminate” against anyone who has not had the vaccine. That includes changing any activities or precautions for them.

In a statement Governor Mike DeWine’s Press Secretary Dan Tierney said:

The primary purpose of the bill was to enhance educational opportunities for children in military families–a worthy goal. The amendment was limited to vaccines that do not have full FDA approval. We are confident that these vaccines, proven repeatedly to be very safe and very effective, will be approved by the FDA, thus rendering this issue moot.

Dan Tierney, Press Secretary

Rep. Liston says FDA approval will take time and right now we are running out of time in the race against COVID-19.

“Schools are looking at opening right now, they want to make sure that they can be ready in the next four weeks,” said Rep. Liston.

The rule applies to public schools and universities, but not associated hospitals.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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