State Watch

DeWine bans Ohio universities, schools from mandating COVID-19 vaccines

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill Wednesday that would ban public schools and higher education institutions from mandating that people get a vaccine that has not gotten full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new law applies to the COVID-19 vaccine, which the FDA has authorized for emergency use.  

The provision, an amendment to a state House bill, also bans discrimination against people who have not received such a vaccine that would otherwise have to refrain from certain activities approved for those who have been vaccinated.  

According to Statehouse News Bureau, DeWine cited vaccine hesitancy, due in part to the emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to full approval, which requires more testing and trials.

“It is past time for the FDA to take into account that hundreds of millions of people have received these vaccines and to move it from an emergency basis over to a regular basis,” DeWine said, according to the news outlet. “I would just plead with them to do that. It’s very, very important, lives are frankly at stake. If they will do that, it won’t convince everybody, but there are people out there we know who will be convinced if that’s done.” 

The amendment is part of a bill which focuses on providing opportunities to children of military families who are moving from one school to another, according to Statehouse News Bureau.

Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus leader Leader Kenny Yuko expressed his disappointment over DeWine signing the legislation.

“I am disappointed by Governor DeWine’s decision to sign House Bill 244 into law. Public schools and universities in Ohio should be able to create policies to keep their students and employees safe,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

“Vaccines are safe and effective. They have saved American lives and have allowed us to make so much progress against Covid-19, but we need to remain vigilant. This is not the time to let our guard down,” he added. 

Asked if the amendment could discourage some who are vaccine hesitant from receiving shots once fully approved by the FDA, Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the governor, said he believed it would not be a concern.

“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,” Tierney said in an email to The Hill.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine Mike DeWine Mike DeWine Ohio

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