Ohio's Top Doctor Concerned About Vaccination Bill

Oct 8, 2019

The top doctor in state government says she’s keeping an eye on legislation involving vaccinations and abortion, which opponents say have dubious medical science behind them.

Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton says she plans to weigh in on debates over vaccinations. One Ohio House bill would demand schools post information about vaccine exemptions just as they put up immunization requirements.

Acton said her agency's goal is to reduce or eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases, though there are exemptions in the immunization law for medical reasons or religious convictions.

“Everything has a risk benefit,” Acton said. “But vaccines are the surest, safest way that we can keep our kids healthy. So you’ll see me speak out on that.”

The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Don Manning, said the bill isn’t anti-vaccine legislation, but that he wants schools to be transparent. 

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control shows Ohio has the 10th lowest rate of immunization for measles for kindergarteners. Of students in the study, 8% of weren't vaccinated for measles.

The legislature is also considering two other medically questionable abortion bills – one requiring doctors who perform medication abortions to tell patients of a controversial pill to reverse the abortion, and another allowing insurance coverage of a non-existent procedure in an ectopic pregnancy to move the fertilized egg inside the uterus.

Acton said because her agency is facing an unrelated abortion policy lawsuit, concerning the state’s hospital transfer requirements, she can’t talk about the issue.