The Ohio Legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates for students and employees at state public schools and universities. The bill passed along party lines in the Senate, 24-8, and the House, 61-34.
Under the amended legislation, government schools would be barred from mandating vaccines that haven’t received full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. This would include the three COVID-19 vaccines, which have only received emergency-use authorization from the FDA.
Moreover, the bill prohibits schools from discriminating against people by “requiring the individual to engage in or refrain from engaging in activities or precautions that differ from the activities or precautions of an individual who has received such a vaccine.” Public hospitals and private schools and universities are exempt under the legislation, however.
“Parents, in consultation with their personal doctors, have the right to make decisions about their children especially for vaccinations that are not fully approved by the FDA,” said Republican state Sen. Andrew Brenner. “This is about personal rights.”
“There was a lot of feeling that you just don’t want to force kids to do it if their parents don’t want them to,” Republican House Speaker Bob Cupp added.
The passage of the bill comes following the Cincinnati Public Schools’ board of education discussion of a proposal that would require teachers and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to in-person instruction in the fall. The board has sent the resolution back to the board’s policy and equity committee for review and is set to revisit the issue later this summer.
The resolution would become moot, however, if Republican Gov. Mike DeWine were to sign into law the Ohio legislature’s passed COVID-19 vaccine ban for public schools. DeWine has yet to publicly comment on whether he would sign the bill.