Health leaders worry about anti-vaccine measure included in Senate’s draft budget bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) – Some public health officials are alarmed after learning about a measure inserted in the senate version of the state budget bill that would require all public and private universities and colleges in Ohio to allow students to decline vaccines that are currently mandated.

A picture of a syringe taking liquid out of a bottle against a blue and red background. Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO of the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said many colleges now require vaccines for things like meningitis or measles — especially for students who live in dorms.

And she’s not aware of any Ohio college that doesn’t allow exemptions for religious or medical reasons. So, she said the provision isn’t needed.

The senate version of the budget would weaken public health protections now in place at colleges, Wervey Arnold said, and she doesn’t like the way it’s being done.

“By putting it in the budget bill like this, it really prohibits a lot of people from being able to have input or give their feedback or expertise on why this is something that could be a problem,” Wervey Arnold said.

Senators said they’re still working on their budget plan and hope to bring it for a full vote on the floor in the coming days.