House Bill 559 Update

On April 11, 2018 over 30 pediatricians, residents, parent advocates and Ohio AAP staff convened at the Ohio Statehouse to support the introduction of Immunization Process Improvement Bill (HB 559). The Ohio AAP is grateful for the support our members and 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-out is handled and reported for school-age children.

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 testified today about why immunizations are important in his area, which had 2 unrelated meningitis deaths in December 2017.

Organizations lending their support include: Parents for Advocating for Vaccines (PA4V), Every Child by Two, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The National Meningitis Association, National Organization for Rare Disorders, Voice for Children, Ohio State Medical Association, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and Northern Ohio and Immunize Ohio.

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.

Our work is just beginning, with proponent testimony scheduled in May 2018, the Ohio AAP needs strong support over the next 6 weeks. If you are interested in providing written or in person testimony, please contact Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO, atmarnold@ohioaap.org.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

Support this legislation and vaccines. Anti-vaccine groups will be calling, emailing and posting on social media–spreading a lot of misinformation about this legislation and vaccinations. Here are a few things you can do:

Talk to your legislators! Click here to get the contact information for your legislators and ask them to support this legislation.

Share your story! Post on social media about why you vaccinate your children or patients and use the hashtag: #iVax

Help families! Share this information with your families who have been impacted by vaccine preventable disease.

Join the grassroots movement with Ohio Parents Advocating for Vaccines.

RESOURCES. These are some resources for you to share with your colleagues and networks about the legislation and vaccination. Click on the links to download and share.

          Legislation Fact Sheet

          Social Media Guidelines (tips for dealing with critics on social media)

          Ohio Parents Advocating 4 Vaccines Infographic

          Informational Handout: Childhood Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

          Informational Handout: Adolescent Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

If you have questions about the legislation, please contact Melissa Wervey Arnold at marnold@ohioaap.org