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Ohio lawmaker says Vaccine Choice Anti-discrimination Act is a "freedom bill"

Ohio HB 248.

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) -- An Ohio lawmaker is fighting against vaccine mandates with House Bill 248.

The Vaccine Choice Anti-Discrimination Act would prevent vaccine mandates for adults and college students. The bill remains in committee, but Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), who introduced it says she hasn’t given up.

Opponents of the bill say it is problematic for the region’s hospitals.

“We did express our opposition to House Bill 248 in its current format because really it prevents the progress that we have been able to make in regard to vaccinations,” said Sarah Hackenbracht, president/CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “I think employers need to have the ability to kind of set the tone and parameters in their workplace about what they need to expect of employees.”

But under this new measure employers wouldn’t.

Rep. Gross says the Vaccine Choice Anti-Discrimination Act is a "freedom bill."

“The gist of it is it gives everyone the right to refuse a vaccine without discrimination and additionally allows civil penalties if the person is discriminated against,” Gross said.

Gross says the bill isn’t specifically geared toward the COVID vaccine, but in this era some employers have made the vaccine mandatory, such as the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office.

“If people are harmed or injured then those employers who are requiring the vaccine should be held liable, I know that's a strong statement, but we are still in an emergency use-authorized situation and this vaccine is not FDA approved,” said Rep. Gross.

“If these vaccines do become FDA approved will your bill change?” said Dayton 24/7 Now’s Mamie Bah.

“It depends on what kind of science and data we do have,” said Rep Gross.

Governor Mike DeWine has voiced opposition to this bill, saying vaccines have changed lives.

When asked, Hackenbracht said her organization has no plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations, "but its consistently under discussion.”

Dayton 24/7 Now reached out to Kettering Health. The hospital network says they don’t comment on pending legislation.

We also reached out to Premier Health but have not heard back yet.

The bill also strengthens notices that schools must provide parents about exemptions. It also would repeal a state law requiring college students to disclose vaccinations.

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