COLUMBUS, Ohio — One state lawmaker said public schools and colleges should not have the right to force students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, is introducing a bill that creates penalties for schools that even ask about a student's COVID-19 vaccine status.
Wiggam, said students "ought to have the right with their parents to look at the ramifications of taking this COVID injection and finding out whether it works for them."
Wiggam wants to create a law banning any school that gets state funding from requiring, asking or discriminating against students or staff regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, any school that did not go along with it would be fined $5,000 per case and would be forced to pay back legal fees to anyone who sues them and wins.
"We already know that there are public universities trying to force this on their students before they come back and trying to give them different living arrangements, trying to continue forcing masks on people based upon their COVID status and quite frankly, it's just simply unnecessary," said Wiggam.
Layla Dixon, a student at Columbus State Community College, disagrees.
"If this is going to be another normal shot, which it could be or could not be, I think it's valid to ask their information about it,” she said. “I don't think there's anything wrong to see who's vaccinated, who's not so you can differentiate the students.”
Dixon said last semester, like most other college students, she took her classes online due to the pandemic. But now, despite getting the vaccine, Layla said she is still not comfortable going back into a classroom.
"I just don't want to necessarily take the chance with other classmates not being [vaccinated]," Dixon said.â
The thought is a real possibility considering most of the state's colleges are not mandating students get the shot in order to come back in the fall.
Chris Wilson has nephews that go to school in Columbus.
"I think it's better safe than sorry, but I certainly understand the pushback and reasoning why not," Wilson said.
Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine said he would not require any Ohioan to get the shot, but did speak out against another controversial bill, House Bill 248, related to removing vaccine requirements and no longer keeping track of who has gotten them.
On Monday, a spokesperson for DeWine said the governor had no comment on Wiggam's bill but wants to emphasize the need to leave decisions about vaccines up to the schools.