COLUMBUS, Ohio — In opening the Ohio House Health Committee hearing on House Bill 248, its Chair, Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin), offered this point of agreement: "I'm sure that we will be chastised by both sides, both for and against."
Over the next five hours, the panel would hear from both those for and against HB 248, which would block public agencies, businesses, schools, child care providers and others from requiring vaccinations, not just for COVID, but all illnesses. Personal freedom of choice was a main argument by those in favor.
"Our bodies are our property, not the government's, not a corporation," said HB 248 supporter Matthew Eaton.
Fellow supporter Scott Shoemaker agreed. "This bill is not about whether vaccines work or not, it's not about 5G or whether you believe that vaccines make you magnetic or even if you're for or against them. It's about freedom."
Those opposed argued that the failure of a few to get vaccines is a threat to all.
"This bill, simply put, is dangerous; it flies in the face of common sense and science," said Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce.
There were medical professionals who argued against the measure, including a neonatologist/pediatrician who said, "As healthcare workers, I'm here to tell you, we are exhausted."
There were others who argued for it.
"We worked last year through COVID and we lived through all of this we didn't have a vaccine last year," another nurse said. "We got our antibodies and we're starting to see COVID now, we're doing really well."
The longest testimony was reserved for pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Brady, who argued this bill could reverse decades of gains against other illnesses.
"Polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, rubella, mumps, Hepatitis-A," said Dr. Brady reading off a list. "[They] have been reduced by 99% or more since pre-vaccine levels. I fear that passage of Bill 248 will result in a resurgence of these life-threatening diseases."
There was no vote at the end of the roughly five-hour hearing; that was never the intent. The hope was to get as much testimony out of the way before the legislature returns in September, Chairman Lipps said.