COLUMBUS -- State Rep. Marilyn John on Tuesday labeled as "government overreach" a planned presidential executive order that would mandate millions of Americans receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
John and 60 other members of the Ohio House have signed onto a letter to state Attorney General Dave Yost, urging him to "immediately pursue every legal recourse available ... to do everything in your power to prevent the implementation and enforcement of this order within the borders of Ohio."
The letter, dated Sept. 10, came one day after President Joe Biden announced he would issue orders requiring most federal employees to get vaccinations and pushing large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly.
The orders would impact about two-thirds of all U.S. employees, those who work for businesses with more than 100 workers, and enforced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"We've been patient," Biden said of Americans who thus far have declined to get the vaccine. "But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us."
John, a Republican whose 2nd District covers all of Richland County, said it's impossible to know what Yost or state lawmakers can do since the actual order has not been issued.
"I believe this (mandate) is government overreach. We have seen a lot of government overreach in the last 18 months," said John, a first-term state lawmaker who was often critical of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's handling of the pandemic during 2020 when she served as a Richland County commissioner.
"This is just continuing that. I don't believe the federal government should be mandating vaccines. That's why I signed the letter," John said.
The lawmaker said the government's role should be to provide the "full picture and the full truth."
"That includes how many people have been injured or died because of the vaccine," the Shelby resident said. "I am not seeing that being covered. There are statistics out there on that and the government should be forthcoming on all information about vaccines, as well as COVID.
"I don't think we are getting the full picture," John said. "I think should people should make their own (vaccine) decision based on discussions with their own doctors."
Some entities, such as many health care facilities and universities, have issued mandates for employees and students to get the vaccine.
John said she encouraged those who are reluctant to get the shot(s) to seek exemptions to the mandates.
"There are a number of exemptions to look at if you feel you have a reason not to get a vaccine," John said. "Most, if not all, mandates I have seen do include exemptions."
John said she has spoken to officials at The Ohio State University, for example, and found it did offer exemptions for students.
"All you have to do is fill out a form, get it notarized and submit it," she said, citing personal, religion and health concerns among reasons for seeking the exemption.
"I asked (OSU) about approval and was told they have turned down very few requests for exemptions," John said.
John said she is also concerned testing for natural immunity is not being done frequently enough. According to published reports, a new study from Israel found natural immunity may offer longer-lasting and stronger protection against COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant than that provided by vaccine.
"Why aren't we testing for immunity?" she asked. "Why isn't that information being shared. That is the government's responsibility -- to give a full picture to residents of the state of Ohio and all Americans as to what is happening during the pandemic."