Raising Awareness About Health Choices

Preserving the Fundamental Human Right to Health Freedom

Ohio Vaccination Laws

Ohio has various laws regarding vaccinations and vaccination exemptions. Below you will find information on:

Daycare/Preschool

Kindergarten through 12th grade

College

Workplace

***The following is not meant to be legal advice. If you require legal advice, please seek out an attorney licensed in Ohio.  We recommend reading through each Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to be fully aware of the law.

For more information about vaccines, please see our recommended list of resources Get Informed

Ohio Allows Vaccine Exemptions for Child Care, Daycare, and Preschool

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The state of Ohio has 3 types of exemptions: Medical and Reasons of Conscience, including Religious convictions.

A medical statement is required for all children enrolling in a child day-care center, type A family day-care home, or licensed type B family day-care home or receives child care from a certified in-home aide.

Ohio law requires the child medical statement to include sections for exceptions to immunization, including a component where a parent can decline. See sample form here.

The medical statement should contain no wording that asks for a specific religion or beliefs, nor any other items except a place for a parent to decline. 

***IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING NON-PUBLIC CHILD CARE PROVIDERS***

In summer 2017, an ODJFS administrative rule change was enacted that allowed private child care providers to deny enrollment to children missing one, some, or all vaccines required under ORC5104.014 (see below for list of vaccines). Because this was in direct contradiction to what the law states, a review of the law was requested.

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission returned this analysis (LSC Review 5104.014.pdf), which concluded that enrollment was not adequately included in the law. Please note that appendix B covers what child care providers shall provide in writing to parents. Therefore, they must state "care of children without immunizations" in their policies and procedures, which includes whether they accept exemptions or not.

If you are presented with a form from a child care provider/center, compare it to ORC 5104.014 for compliance with the law. Providing the minimum required information is recommended.

If you are unsure you can email Health Freedom Ohio at info@healthfreedomohio.org

5104.014. Medical statement of immunization

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Child" includes both of the following:

(a) An infant, toddler, or preschool age child;

(b) A school-age child who is not enrolled in a public or nonpublic school but is enrolled in a child day-care center, type A family day-care home, or licensed type B family day-care home or receives child care from a certified in-home aide.

(2) "In the process of being immunized" means having received at least the first dose of an immunization sequence and complying with the immunization intervals or catch-up schedule prescribed by the director of health.

(B) Except as provided in division (C) of this section, not later than thirty days after enrollment in a child day-care center, type A family day-care home, or licensed type B family day-care home and every thirteen months thereafter while enrolled in the center or home and not later than thirty days after beginning to receive child care from a certified in-home aide and every thirteen months thereafter while continuing to receive child care from the aide, each child's caretaker parent shall provide to the center, home, or in-home aide a medical statement, as described in division (D) of this section, indicating that the child has been immunized against or is in the process of being immunized against all of the following diseases:

(1) Chicken pox;

(2) Diphtheria;

(3) Haemophilus influenzae type b;

(4) Hepatitis A;

(5) Hepatitis B;

(6) Influenza;

(7) Measles;

(8) Mumps;

(9) Pertussis;

(10) Pneumococcal disease;

(11) Poliomyelitis;

(12) Rotavirus;

(13) Rubella;

(14) Tetanus.

(C) (1) A child is not required to be immunized against a disease specified in division (B) of this section if any of the following is the case:

(a) Immunization against the disease is medically contraindicated for the child;

(b) The child's parent or guardian has declined to have the child immunized against the disease for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions;

(c) Immunization against the disease is not medically appropriate for the child's age.

(2) In the case of influenza, a child is not required to be immunized against the disease if the seasonal vaccine is not available.

(D) (1) The medical statement shall include all of the following information:

(a) The dates that a child received immunizations against each of the diseases specified in division (B) of this section;

(b) Whether a child is subject to any of the exceptions specified in division (C) of this section.

(2) The medical statement shall include a component where a parent or guardian may indicate that the parent or guardian has declined to have the child immunized.

Cite as (Casemaker) R.C. § 5104.014

History. Added by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 394, §1, eff. 3/19/2015.

Ohio Allows Vaccine Exemptions for K-12

The state of Ohio has 3 types of exemptions: Medical and Reasons of Conscience, including Religious convictions.

Medical exemptions require a signature from a licensed physician in the state of Ohio. 

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Exemptions for reason of conscience, including religious conviction require a signed written statement from the parent or guardian submitted to the school upon enrollment. There is no pre-written statement or form that you are required to submit for public school. The statement provided to you on this website is just one example. To download this file click here:

Immunization Exemption Statement.pdf

For a current list of vaccine doses that would require an exemption for entry into public schools in Ohio, please check the Ohio Department of Health website here.

What if you've turned in a vaccine exemption statement for your K-12 child yet the school is giving you a hard time? They are requesting that you sign a specific form, or stating they never received your exemption statement. What can you do now?

If the school is failing to communicate exemptions in written or verbal notifications or requesting that you sign a specific form for an exemption, consider the following:

  1. Read the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) Review of 3313.671. A written and signed statement by a parent is all that is required. You are not required to fill out or complete a specific form. A member of the clergy is not required to sign or support the parent's written statement. Provide a copy of the Ohio LSC Review to the school by downloading and printing: LSC Review 3313.671.pdf.
  2. Call or email the school nurse or other staff who is failing to communicate exemptions or denying your written statement. Politely let them know that you are informed of your rights under Ohio Revised Code 3313.671. Ask them to provide a reference showing where it says you are required to fill out the school form.
  3. Consider sending an email with all the forms and communications from the school to your State Representative, State Senator, District Superintendent, and Ohio Board of Education Member, being sure to copy the school principal and nurse on the emails. Explain that you are complying with the law, but the school isn’t allowing it and is threatening to add your child to the exclusion list. Link to find your Ohio Board of Education Member. Link to find your Ohio State Legislator.   

Sample email communication:

To Whom It May Concern:

It has come to my attention that an omission has occurred in the language used to notify parents of vaccine requirements as it relates to Kindergarten, 7th, or 12th grade admission and Ohio Revised Code.

According to ORC 3313.671 (B) (4): 

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3313.671

“A pupil who presents a written statement of the pupil's parent or guardian in which the parent or guardian declines to have the pupil immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions, is not required to be immunized."

An Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) review of the law, further clarifies by stating:

https://healthfreedomohio.org/resources/Documents/LSC%20Review%203313.671.pdf

"Under current law, a student who presents a written statement of the student's parent or guardian in which the parent or guardian declined to have the student immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions, is not required to be immunized. The statute does not require the parent or guardian to complete or fill out a form. Instead, the statute specifies only that a written statement be submitted. It also does not require the parent or guardian to obtain a signature or statement from the parent's or guardian's clergy member supporting the reasons of conscience or religious convictions exemption."

Parents have the legal right to be fully and accurately informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention, including a pharmaceutical product, and be free to make a voluntary decision about whether to accept the risk for their minor child without being misled, coerced, punished, or discriminated for the decision they make. 

Being fully and accurately informed of the law in all notifications provided by the district, whether verbal or written, is part of the information a parent needs to make an informed decision. As an individual who values parental rights and freedom of bodily autonomy, I ask that all future notifications include information regarding ORC 3313.671 (B) (4).

Thank you for your time and attention to this sensitive matter. I look forward to working with you on bringing an honest and accurate representation of ORC 3313.671 to the parents of our district.

Sincerely,



If the school is stating they never received your exemption statement, consider the following:

  1. If you decide to take your exemption statement in personally, ask for a signed and dated receipt of your statement before leaving the office. You can have the office worker sign this statement of receipt: Exemption from Immunization Statemement of Rec.pdf
  2. If they refuse to sign and date your receipt, or in any way deny you physical proof that your statement has been received, do not leave it with them. Take it to the post office and send your statement certified; pay the additional fee to attach the physical return signature receipt card to the envelope.

All of this can be done in a very formal, friendly way. If you have any questions, need clarification or assistance, please email us at info@healthfreedomohio.org

ORC 3313.671 Proof of required immunizations - exceptions.

(A) (1) Except as otherwise provided in division (B) of this section, no pupil, at the time of initial entry or at the beginning of each school year, to an elementary or high school for which the state board of education prescribes minimum standards pursuant to division (D) of section 3301.07 of the Revised Code, shall be permitted to remain in school for more than fourteen days unless the pupil presents written evidence satisfactory to the person in charge of admission, that the pupil has been immunized by a method of immunization approved by the department of health pursuant to section 3701.13 of the Revised Code against mumps, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, rubeola, and rubella or is in the process of being immunized.

(2) Except as provided in division (B) of this section, no pupil who begins kindergarten at an elementary school subject to the state board of education's minimum standards shall be permitted to remain in school for more than fourteen days unless the pupil presents written evidence satisfactory to the person in charge of admission that the pupil has been immunized by a department of health-approved method of immunization or is in the process of being immunized against both of the following:

(a) During or after the school year beginning in 1999, hepatitis B;

(b) During or after the school year beginning in 2006, chicken pox.

(3) Except as provided in division (B) of this section, during and after the school year beginning in 2016, no pupil who is the age or older than the age at which immunization against meningococcal disease is recommended by the state department of health shall be permitted to remain in a school subject to the state board of education's minimum standards for more than fourteen days unless the pupil presents written evidence satisfactory to the person in charge of admission that the pupil has been immunized by a department of health-approved method of immunization, or is in the process of being immunized, against meningococcal disease.

(4) As used in divisions (A)(1) , (2), and (3) of this section, "in the process of being immunized" means the pupil has been immunized against mumps, rubeola, rubella, and chicken pox, and if the pupil has not been immunized against poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B, and meningococcal disease, the pupil has received at least the first dose of the immunization sequence, and presents written evidence to the pupil's building principal or chief administrative officer of each subsequent dose required to obtain immunization at the intervals prescribed by the director of health. Any student previously admitted under the "in process of being immunized" provision and who has not complied with the immunization intervals prescribed by the director of health shall be excluded from school on the fifteenth day of the following school year. Any student so excluded shall be readmitted upon showing evidence to the student's building principal or chief administrative officer of progress on the director of health's interval schedule.

(B)

(1) A pupil who has had natural rubeola, and presents a signed statement from the pupil's parent, guardian, or physician to that effect, is not required to be immunized against rubeola.

(2) A pupil who has had natural mumps, and presents a signed statement from the pupil's parent, guardian, or physician to that effect, is not required to be immunized against mumps.

(3) A pupil who has had natural chicken pox, and presents a signed statement from the pupil's parent, guardian, or physician to that effect, is not required to be immunized against chicken pox.

(4) A pupil who presents a written statement of the pupil's parent or guardian in which the parent or guardian declines to have the pupil immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions, is not required to be immunized.

(5) A child whose physician certifies in writing that such immunization against any disease is medically contraindicated is not required to be immunized against that disease.

(C) As used in this division, "chicken pox epidemic" means the occurrence of cases of chicken pox in numbers greater than expected in the school's population or for a particular period of time.

Notwithstanding division (B) of this section, a school may deny admission to a pupil otherwise exempted from the chicken pox immunization requirement if the director of the state department of health notifies the school's principal or chief administrative officer that a chicken pox epidemic exists in the school's population. The denial of admission shall cease when the director notifies the principal or officer that the epidemic no longer exists.

The board of education or governing body of each school subject to this section shall adopt a policy that prescribes methods whereby the academic standing of a pupil who is denied admission during a chicken pox epidemic may be preserved.

(D) Boards of health, legislative authorities of municipal corporations, and boards of township trustees on application of the board of education of the district or proper authority of any school affected by this section, shall provide at the public expense, without delay, the means of immunization against mumps, poliomyelitis, rubeola, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and hepatitis B to pupils who are not so provided by their parents or guardians.

(E) The department of health shall specify the age at which immunization against meningococcal disease, as required by division (A)(3) of this section, is recommended, and approve a method of immunization against meningococcal disease.

Amended by 131st General Assembly File No. TBD, SB 121, §1, eff. 10/15/2015.

Effective Date: 09-30-1998; 05-06-2005

Ohio Does Not Have Vaccine Requirements for College, Just Reporting

Nonprofit (most “public”) colleges and universities in Ohio must obtain disclosure from all students who will be residing on campus of their vaccination status for meningitis and hepatitis B. There are no other requirements, and private colleges are not included. There are no exemptions because this is a REPORTING requirement, not a vaccination requirement.

However, some colleges and universities have enacted their own vaccination requirements, often through student body organizations. Some offer exemptions readily; others do not or claim there are none. For more on this issue and options for declining college-required vaccines, see this blog post.

If you are presented with a form from a college or university, compare it to ORC 1733.55 for compliance with the law. Providing the minimum required information is recommended.

If you are unsure you can email Health Freedom Ohio at info@healthfreedomohio.org

1713.55. Meningitis and hepatitis B vaccination

(B) Beginning with the academic year that commences on or after July 1, 2005, a nonprofit institution of higher education shall not permit a student to reside in on-campus student housing unless the student, or, if the student is younger than eighteen years of age, the student's parent, discloses to the institution whether the student has been vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis and hepatitis B by submitting to the institution the meningitis and hepatitis B vaccination status statement described in division (B) of section 3701.133 of the Revised Code or a meningitis status statement form provided by the institution that meets the requirements of division (B) of section 3701.133 of the Revised Code. The statement may be submitted in written form or, if the institution has a secure web site, in electronic form.

(C) On receipt of an application for residence in on-campus student housing, a nonprofit institution of higher education shall do both of the following:

(1) Inform the student of the disclosure requirement;

(2) Provide the student in either written or, if the school has a secure web site, electronic form the meningitis and hepatitis B vaccination status statement described in division (B) of section 3701.133 of the Revised Code or a meningitis status statement form provided by the institution that meets the requirements of division (B) of section 3701.133 of the Revised Code.

(D) This section does not require an institution to provide or pay for a meningococcal meningitis or hepatitis B vaccination for any student.

Religious Accommodation for Workplace Vaccinations

Approximately a dozen states have legislation pertaining to workplace vaccinations and/or exemptions. Ohio state law does not yet provide exemptions for workplace vaccinations. Employees who decline vaccination -- an invasive medical intervention -- may be fired if the employer does not offer exemptions, reassigned to other areas/duties, and/or required to wear a mask for the duration of “flu season” — often October or November through April.

Some employers do offer their own official exemptions to vaccines such as annual flu shot, but such employers are increasingly rare. Such exemptions are usually limited to medical contraindications and religious exemptions. Medical contraindications are extremely limited according to a list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mainly severe life-threatening allergies to the vaccine or its ingredients. Most people don’t know they have such an allergy until they have already had a catastrophic reaction to a vaccine.

For religious exemptions, some employers actually require letters or other official documentation from religious authorities, which violates the long-held American tradition and both state and federal definition of religious belief, which is about an individual’s deeply held beliefs and not a particular denomination or formalized belief system.

Employees who decline a vaccine may face punitive action from their employers. Some employers even exclude those who decline vaccination from merit raises and other perks. However, public and private companies who employ 15 or more people are required under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to provide religious accommodation to employees with sincerely held beliefs. This accommodation does not require any denomination or even belief in God, but must be carefully worded to withstand legal challenge. Common mistakes include requesting religious accommodation focused on safety and efficacy, or science, rather than belief issues.

It is important to recognize that this religious accommodation is not the same as employer-offered exemptions or exemptions in state law. Health Freedom Ohio is aware of people in Ohio who have successfully sought and used religious accommodation regarding vaccination, most with the help of a lawyer. Employers do not typically inform employees of this option, and some make it very difficult to pursue, such as by requiring employees to answer very personal questions about their beliefs and what alternatives to vaccination they would use. 

Under federal law for accommodations, employers can retrain and reassign employees. This accommodation may also extend to college students in clinical work or internships, as well as those in training. Interestingly, as observed by a prominent former vaccine rights attorney, hospital employers often allow exemptions/accommodations for influenza vaccination but often cite “undue hardship” for other vaccines like TDaP, Hep B, Varicella, and MMR.

Other Considerations 

Despite the obvious ethical problems, vaccination requirements in the workplace seem firmly entrenched. More and more vaccines are being added, and powerful pharmaceutical/medical lobbies are pushing for adult vaccinations. Employees must join together in protecting their right to bodily integrity and to determine what medical interventions and pharmaceutical products they consume. Employers should provide very robust data supporting any requirements that carry risk of injury or death. Employers’ rights should never extend inside workers’ bodies, especially when it comes to issues of informed consent to medical products and procedures. One possible avenue for addressing vaccination and other requirements that pose significant risks for workers is the National Labor Relations Board.

Disclaimer: The above information is not intended as legal advice but rather to provide an overview of workplace vaccination requirements and options for employees whose religious beliefs (including strong personal convictions) oppose some or all vaccinations. Much of the information is from presentations, discussions, and writings of Alan Phillips, J.D. From his own website: “Alan has helped 100's of healthcare workers and other employees get exemptions in the workplace, and can assist you with general educational materials, and can provide specific information, if needed, to your local attorney.” His helpful e-book, The Authoritative Guide to Vaccine Legal Exemptions, is available for purchase at his website. Employees who desire to file a religious accommodation request are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel. 

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