Opinion: Vaccines do not make people magnetic, but proposed vaccine ban and 'ludicrous conspiracy theories' could kill
"Snake oil should give way to real medicine."
Ohio has long been a leader in vaccinating people against deadly diseases.
Sixty years ago, Cincinnati was able to declare itself the country’s first polio-free city after a mass vaccination effort led by Ohio native Albert Sabin.
And as recently as five years ago, the state legislature passed a law requiring children to get vaccinated for meningitis.
That commitment to vaccination has saved the lives of tens of thousands of Ohioans. Yet a bill making its way through the state legislature threatens to erase this legacy — and put our lives at risk.
House Bill 248 is a bill that would, in effect, end vaccine requirements in the state of Ohio.
If the bill becomes law, your school can’t require the kid who sits next to yours to be vaccinated for polio. Your favorite restaurant can’t require its cooks to be vaccinated against hepatitis. Your parents’ nursing home can’t ask its caregivers if they are vaccinated against whooping cough. And the ICU in my hospital can’t keep out unvaccinated staff who could kill our patients with a sneeze.
As a doctor, I can say with no exaggeration, that House Bill 248 is life-threatening to any Ohioan who could potentially catch a vaccine-preventable disease — and that is every single one of us. As vaccination rates decrease, we see rates of measles, whooping cough and even polio rise across the globe. Meningitis can kill within hours of exposure.
That is why every legitimate public health expert opposes the bill, whereas its most vocal supporters are known charlatans who are infamous for pitching weird pseudoscience in order to sell their books.
A few weeks ago, one of them testified as an invited speaker to the state legislature that vaccines make people magnetic.
Others claimed that people who get vaccines can be controlled by 5G cellphones. Really. And less comically, many of these con artists have linked their anti-vaccination campaigns to disgusting, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
You might have seen videos of these oddballs on the late night talk shows or the Internet: Their absurdity and bigotry have made them — and our entire state — the target of nationwide ridicule. Their ludicrous conspiracy theories should not be the basis of health policy in Ohio.
The basis of health policy should be science. Whenever I treat a patient, I rely upon the findings of medical science; when making decisions about public health, our state legislature should rely upon the same body of research. That is common sense, and it is what most Ohioans believe.
Snake oil should give way to real medicine.
But in the words of the politician who wrote H.B 248, “this is not a science bill.”
That is correct.
This is a bill that spits, coughs and wheezes in the face of medical science. H.B. 248 is a bill that will kill children, the elderly, the infirm and other Ohioans who have weakened immune systems — and even some adults whose immune systems function normally.
That is, unless we stop it.
The state legislature is holding an emergency meeting next week in order to hear additional testimony on House Bill 248.
While that testimony is being heard, I urge all Ohioans to write or call their state representatives and sound off on this bill.
Tell your representatives not to risk your family’s health on conspiracy theories propagated by fraudsters. Your voice can kill this bill.
Vaccines save lives. Whether our state legislature lets them is up to you.
Beth Liston is an internal medicine and pediatrics physician who has been caring for hospitalized patients with COVID since the pandemic began. She also serves as state representative in the Ohio General Assembly for Dublin/Worthington/Northwest Columbus.