Harmful Flu Vaccine Legislation Passes Out of House Committee

On Tuesday (September 12, 2017), the Ohio House Economic Development, Commerce, and Labor Committee favorably reported House Bill 193 by a vote of 8-5. The vote mostly fell along party lines, though two republicans (State Reps. Al Landis and Steve Arndt) did oppose the measure. The bill would restrict the ability of employers to require employees to be immunized against the flu. This is obviously very important to hospitals that utilize flu immunization as part of their patient safety programs. The bill is opposed by the Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, and Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Despite strong opposition and overwhelming scientific evidence on the effectiveness of immunizations in preventing the spread of disease and illness, HB 193 cleared the committee.

Prior to passage, the committee accepted two amendments that were generally positive, though failed to modify the bill to the point of removing opposition. The first amendment, offered by Rep. Dave Greenspan, grants employers the ability to adopt ‘reasonable’ policies for employees who refuse the flu immunization. These policies could include hand-washing, masking, or temporary assignment to non-patient areas. The second amendment, offered by Rep. Thomas West, restricts the prohibition on flu immunization requirements from applying to other employer-mandated immunizations.

The Ohio AAP does not anticipate a floor vote in the near future and there is speculation that the measure could be re-referred to the House Health Committee for further deliberation. We will continue to oppose this harmful measure and protect the ability of hospitals to protect patients. In the meantime, we encourage our members and partners to call their state representative office to oppose the bill.

If you have questions about this legislation, contact Melissa Wervey Arnold, Ohio AAP CEO, at marnold@ohioaap.org.


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