Ohio’s DeWine Opposes Legislation Seeking to Weaken COVID-19 Vaccination Laws

The governor of Ohio on Thursday opposed a controversial bill that seeks to weaken vaccination laws in the state, according to reports.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he is antagonistic about House Bill 248 while asking Ohioans to contemplate the impact COVID-19 vaccines have had on society so far, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“Before modern medicine, diseases such as mumps, polio, whooping cough were common and caused great, great, great suffering and death to thousands of people every single year,” DeWine said during a news briefing announcing the latest winners for the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery.

The bill would block employers from mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment and allow state residents to skip any vaccination by making a written or verbal declaration.

It would also prohibit unvaccinated people to be forced to wear a face mask and block health departments, schools, or other government agencies from mandating participation in a vaccine registry.

The governor’s comments came after hearings on the bill garnered attention in the news when Cleveland physician Dr. Sherry Tenpenny told lawmakers at the Ohio House of Representatives the COVID-19 vaccines cause autism and also make people “magnetized,” The Hill reported.

People deciding to get their vaccines in the state of Ohio have seen a surge after DeWine announced that five residents will win $1 million each as a monetary incentive for getting inoculated.

vaccine ohio
A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Dayton, Ohio, on Feb. 10, 2021. (Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images)

Ohio’s Department of Health said last month that from May 14 to 17, vaccination rates for people 16 and older jumped 28 percent.

The “Ohio Vax-a-Million” program is funded by existing federal pandemic relief funds and Ohio residents who are at least 18 years old and have received “at least” one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are eligible to win the sum in once-a-week lottery drawings, the governor announced last week.

The first drawing happened on May 26 and the Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings and the state Lottery will conduct them.

DeWine said at the time that the pool of names for the drawings will take place each Wednesday for five consecutive weeks and will come from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter registration database. Residents not in the database can register on a separate website that will be made available later.

A separate incentive for younger Ohio residents will see five vaccinated 12- to 17-year-old students receive full four-year scholarships to attend Ohio public universities, including tuition, room, board, and books.

Isabel van Brugen contributed to this report.