DeWine signs bill banning COVID-19 vaccine requirements in public schools and universities

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Governor Mike DeWine has signed a bill that will prevent public schools and universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students and staff until they receive full approval from federal officials.

Wording added to House Bill 244 will prevent schools and universities from requiring vaccines that have not received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. All three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved under emergency use authorization, a rigorous protocol that includes clinical trials.

After:Ohio lawmakers ban requiring COVID-19 vaccine in public schools and universities

The new law doesn’t go into effect for 90 days, and the vaccines could receive full FDA approval in that window, making the language questionable.

“We are confident that the three major COVID vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – will receive full FDA approval,” DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said, adding that full approval will help reduce vaccine hesitations.

DeWine supported the underlying bill to help military families, Tierney said.

Ohio lawmakers passed the ban as schools decided how to tackle vaccines for the coming year. Cincinnati Public School is considering a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for staff and the state of Cleveland will require students living on campus to be vaccinated.

The bill does not apply to private universities or hospitals connected to public universities. Several private universities and colleges, such as Kenyon College and Ohio Wesleyan University, will require that students be vaccinated. Some have exceptions for religious or medical reasons.

The wording on vaccines was a last-minute addition to Bill 244. The underlying bill would require schools to allow children of military families to begin classes online, thereby easing their transition to a school. new district. This is especially important for families at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

But Senator Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, said vaccine language is an important guide for school leaders as they make decisions about vaccine needs this fall.

“Parents, in consultation with their personal physicians, have the right to make decisions about their children, especially for vaccinations that are not fully approved by the FDA,” Brenner said. “These are personal rights.”

Senior Senate Democrat Kenny Yuko said he was disappointed with DeWine’s decision to enact Bill 244.

“Ohio public schools and universities should be able to create policies to keep their students and employees safe. Vaccines are safe and effective,” Yuko said in a statement. “Now is not the time to let your guard down.”

DeWine has vetoed several proposals from Ohio lawmakers to limit or restrict the ability of the Ohio Department of Health to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, he removed a provision from the budget that would have eliminated fines for companies that violated COVID-19 protocols.

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Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.


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