A last-minute change approved in the Ohio House would prevent employers, both public and private, from requiring employees to be vaccinated if the shot did not receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This would apply to all three COVID-19 vaccines, which have received emergency use authorization. The change would also prevent employers from treating employees differently based on their immunization status.
The amendment was added to Senate Bill 111, which allocates $ 422 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds to local governments, with a vote of 57-38 divided largely by party.
The change came after Bill 248, which included a number of provisions to avoid requiring vaccines, was presumed dead. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Manufacturers Association have spoken out against the bill.
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Ohio Senate Speaker Matt Huffman also opposed the bill, saying the government should not impose mandates on private companies.
The proposal gained international attention after an Ohio doctor shared vaccine conspiracy theories magnetizing people. But the language added Thursday afternoon was closer to Bill 350, introduced by Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, who also wanted to ban vaccine passports.
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“The vaccine has been scientifically verified and is currently saving lives,” said Representative Beth Liston, Dublin Democrat and doctor. “This amendment would be harmful to our health and our communities. “
The Ohio House approved Senate Bill 111 by 60 to 34, sending the bill to the Ohio Senate to consider the changes. If passed, DeWine could veto the change.
DeWine has always said he opposed legislation that discourages vaccination or prevents companies from ensuring the safety of their employees.
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.