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Ohio doctors, lawmakers debate during testimony on vaccine exemption legislation

House Bill 435 was designed to give employers the right to mandate the vaccine, while also protecting workers who refuse to keep their jobs.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — House Bill 435, also known as the “Vaccine Fairness Act,”  would give Ohio employees a series of exemptions when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

It has created a heated debate on Wednesday during a hearing on the bill.

The bill was designed to give employers the right to mandate the vaccine, while also protecting workers who refuse to keep their jobs.

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist from OhioHealth, testified against the bill, saying it should exempt hospitals in order to ensure workforce and patient safety.

During the testimony, one of the exchanges between Dr. Gastaldo and a lawmaker focused on an employee who said her doctor told her not to get the shot.

Representative Don Jones (R-Freeport) said the employee has asthma and her doctor advised her that it would not be beneficial for her to get the vaccine. 

Jones said because of the decision, the employee was going to lose her job and her insurance at the end of the month. 

Dr. Gastaldo responded by saying it wasn't appropriate medical advice.  

“You're telling people their doctor doesn't know what he's talking about?” said Rep. Jones.

“If that is what is being told by that health provider I have a problem with that,” said Dr. Gastaldo.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce also weighed in on the bill, saying that the legislation could interfere with making important decisions. 

“Unfortunately, bills like HB 435 – or worse, HB 248 – interfere with employers’ freedom to make decisions about protecting their workforce and to develop the health and safety policies and practices that meet the needs of their individual workplaces,” said Keith Lake, vice president of government of affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

You can read more about the bill here

COVID-19 in Ohio: Recent Coverage ⬇️