State Rep. Scott Lipps, who was named chairman of the Ohio House Health Committee, said he believes in vaccines but he won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 when he becomes eligible.
“I don’t understand the science. I really am not convinced. I’m really worried about the trials on that,” said Lipps, who owns a mattress company and home health care supplies firm.
A recent online report by AJ-Plus, an outlet that is part of the Al Jazeera Media Network and funded by Qatar, painted Lipps as an “anti-vaxxer.”
Last spring, Lipps, R-Franklin, said he held a video call with Health Freedom Ohio to talk about flu vaccines. Snippets of that call were twisted to make him appear to be an anti-vaxxer, he told the Dayton Daily News this week.
Lipps said his legislative record demonstrates his support for expanding access to vaccines, such as sponsoring a new law to allow podiatrists to administer immunizations.
“However, that said, I do believe in freedom of choice, I do believe in informed consent. If you want the vaccine, go get the damn vaccine. Good for you,” Lipps said, adding that he helped his elderly parents get appointments for the COVID-19 vaccination.
Lipps said he consults with Health Freedom Ohio, which is a group that advocates against employer-mandated flu shots, in favor of curbing public health authority and in favor of requiring schools to tell parents about exemptions in state law regarding childhood vaccinations.
“I do talk to them, yeah. I go to them for information because some of the information that I get about science, I don’t believe. So, I go to them and I say, ‘Can you counter this?’” Lipps said.
Health Freedom Ohio President Michelle Cotterman and its lobbyist Barry Sheets did not return messages seeking comment.
“Leadership matters. We need representatives who are using science and medicine to keep people healthy, not pandering to extremist groups,” said state Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin, a physician at Ohio State University who also holds a Master’s degree in public health. “Wear a mask. Get the vaccine. It’s proven science — and common sense.”
Lipps is joined on the Health Committee by other Miami Valley lawmakers: Andrea White, Jennifer Gross, Susan Manchester, Phil Plummer and Tom Young.
This week, the Ohio House voted 58-33 to reject a proposed rule requiring lawmakers and visitors to wear face masks at the Statehouse. And the Ohio Senate began hearing testimony on Senate Bill 22, which would allow lawmakers to rescind public health orders issued by the governor or Ohio Department of Health.
The Ohio Senate Health Committee is chaired by state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, an emergency room physician. Huffman last year made national news when he questioned whether the “colored population” was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 because they didn’t wash their hands as well as other groups or failed to socially distance themselves.
Huffman apologized for the remarks.
In January, he issued this statement that said in part: “Over the last several months I’ve participated in classes on diversity and inclusion and I’ve discussed this issue with my African American colleagues in the legislature as well as African American health care leaders in my district to identify ways the medical community can better help underserved populations.”
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