Vaccines and Daycare: Will Ohio Finally Catch Up With Every Other State?


One of the many weird things found in Ohio.

Ohio has some interesting claims to fame.  It’s the birthplace of more American presidents (8) than any other state. Two of our most famous astronauts — John Glenn and Neil Armstrong — have called Ohio home.  Ohio is also the place of the world’s largest cuckoo clock and of what may be the only field of giant, concrete ears of corn. 

Guess what else?  Ohio also has the dubious distinction of being the only state that currently does not require any vaccinations for entrance into preschool or daycare.  That’s right. Unlike the other 49 states, right now in Ohio your preschooler does not have to have a single shot before heading off to play with the other kids. And likewise, all the little vulnerable babies in daycare can legally be exposed to any number of unvaccinated kids who also happen to attend that daycare.

This is a really frightening fact, particularly in light of the resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases Ohio has experienced recently.  You will recall that, this year, Ohio had the largest measles outbreak in the country (in large part due to an outbreak among the unvaccinated Amish community).  Between January and September of this year, Ohio also had the largest outbreak of mumps (482 cases) since 1979.  And in just the month of October, there were 37 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported in the Cincinnati area.

There may, however, be some good news on the horizon.  Right now there are bills  pending in the Ohio House (HB 536) and Senate (SB 381)  that would mandate vaccinations for entrance into daycare at either a daycare center or a home-based daycare.  These bills both continue to offer exemptions for both medical reasons, and based on personal convictions, but would require that a physician or specified health care provider attest, in writing, to either the medical contraindication or the parent’s refusal.  These bills are not perfect — they do not extend these requirements to preschools — but they are a very good start and they need to pass.

These bills are set for hearing tomorrow, Wednesday November 19, 2014.  Ohio friends, can you take two minutes right now and call or email at least one or two members of:

1. The Ohio Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee

2. The Ohio House Health and Aging Committee

3. Your legislator in the Ohio House or Senate

Tell them that this is an important public health law that protects the most vulnerable Ohio citizens — our kids.  Tell them it is a reasonable law that continues to offer accommodations for those kids who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and imposes only a minor burden on parents who unequivocally oppose vaccination.

Go! Make this your good deed for the day.



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