Jul 7, 2022 - COVID

Vaccine mandate ban may reach Ohio ballot

Anti-vaccine demonstrators hold signs outside the Ohio Statehouse.
Anti-vaccine mandate demonstrators outside the Ohio Statehouse during a protest in August 2021. Photo: Stephen Zenner/AFP via Getty Images

Anti-vaccine activists want to amend the Ohio Constitution to ban vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: After Ohio saw a rise in anti-vaccine sentiment during the pandemic's early days, this effort shows there is still momentum to enact such policies.

Driving the news: The Ohio Ballot Board advanced the proposed amendment in a procedural vote Tuesday, allowing organizers to begin gathering petitions in order to put it to a public vote.

Details: The "Medical Right to Refuse" amendment would prohibit Ohio lawmakers, employers, businesses and health care providers from requiring anyone to receive any kind of vaccine or other medical treatment.

  • An "[i]ndividual's right to refuse any medical procedure, treatment, injection, vaccine, prophylactic, pharmaceutical, or medical device shall be absolute," its text reads.

The big picture: Under the amendment, hospitals would be forbidden from mandating employees be vaccinated in order to work with sick patients. Vaccine mandates for K-12 student admissions would also be removed.

What we're watching: Pavan Parikh, the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts and member of the Ballot Board, questioned if the amendment's scope could prevent the state from requiring those with poor vision to wear glasses while driving.

What's next: Organizers now need to gather nearly 443,000 eligible signatures to reach the ballot, per state rules.

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