Advocacy Alert

Ohio AAP Members-We Need Your Help on Immunization Bill

Dear Ohio AAP Members,

As I hope you are aware, the Ohio AAP worked hard over the past few months to secure sponsors to support the Immunization Process Improvement Bill (HB 559). The Ohio AAP is grateful to State Representatives Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) and Al Landis (R-Dover) for their sponsorship of the bill as well as the thirteen national and state health organizations that have committed their support. HB 559 calls for a streamlined process on how data concerning immunization opt-outs are handled and reported for school-age children.

NOW WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!  Next Wednesday, April 11th, at 9am, HB 559 will have sponsor testimony at the Ohio Statehouse.  There will be strong opposition at the hearing from the anti vaccine advocates, and we want to show the Ohio House of Representatives’ Health Committee that pediatricians and residents in Ohio are just as passionate in SUPPORT of this bill.

If you are able, please consider coming to the Ohio House of Representatives Health Committee Meeting next Wednesday IN YOUR WHITE COAT to sit in the gallery to show your support.  You do not need to talk or prepare any remarks, just show up and show your support as a physician or resident of this important bill.

If you can attend, please let me know at marnold@ohioaap.org, or 614-846-6258. We will plan to meet in the Rotunda area of the Statehouse between 8:30-8:45am to walk to the hearing room.

For more details on HB 559, please see below.

Provisions in the bill include:

·         Establishes a universal immunization information form for all school districts to use and requires that a physician, advanced practice nurse or health department nurse sign the form for all required immunizations for Kindergarten, school entry, and grades 7 and 12. This universal form also calls for  parents or guardians asking for a vaccine waiver to have a dialogue with a healthcare provider to ensure they have all the appropriate medical and scientific information prior to making health care decisions such as immunizing their child.

·         Streamlines how the statewide immunization rates are reported, so that public health officials, stakeholders and parents can know the opt-out rate, by school building.

·         Bill sponsors introduced H.B. 559 to help improve the reliability of Ohio’s immunization data. Rep. Al Landis was at today’s event and spoke to the group about why immunizations are important in his area, which had 2 unrelated meningitis deaths in December 2017.

·         Currently, the rates of unvaccinated children are unknown, and this prevents public health officials from knowing critical data in case of disease outbreak.  It also prevents parents of children who cannot be vaccinated because of allergies or other compromised medical issues, from knowing the potential for exposure.

The bill makes zero changes in the ability of parents and caregivers to choose to vaccinate, or not.  In addition, the legislation does not call for disclosure of a student’s vaccine status or personal identity.

As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Warmest regards,

Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO