Gov. Mike DeWine (R) Thursday signed HB 244 into law, a bill that disallows schools and universities from forcing their students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Until the three COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, respectively, receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that law will stand, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Right now, the vaccines are only approved for emergency use. They may not be fully approved by the FDA before the law takes effect in 90 days, or before most students return to the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year.
“We are confident the three main COVID vaccines – the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – will receive full FDA approval,” DeWine’s spokesman Dan Tierney reportedly said.
HB 244 was sponsored by state Rep. Andrea White (R-OH-41).
The law does not apply to private colleges, some of which, including Kenyon College and Ohio Wesleyan University, will require students to be vaccinated in order to attend classes in the fall.
State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) applauded the bill’s passage.
“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 Brenner. “This is about personal rights.”
Ohio’s ban on vaccine mandates for students follows a nationwide trend.
Though the scope of the law is limited to public universities and schools in Ohio, many other states have fully banned “vaccine passports,” proof that a person has been vaccinated in order to enter private businesses or government buildings.
But DeWine himself has been hesitant to take that leap.
In June, he stated his opposition to a bill that would have banned them.
“I remember as a child when polio struck fear, absolute terror in parents. People altered their behavior with their children, their willingness to go to a ballgame and to go to a swimming pool in the summer,” he explained. “People were terrified. Polio is eradicated, and it’s not, not just polio. Before modern medicines, diseases such as measles, mumps, polio, whooping cough, were common, and caused great, great, great, great suffering and deaths for thousands of people every single year.”
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