Kane County rejects proclamation supporting those who shun COVID-19 vaccine

Saying it would send the wrong message, Kane County Board members shunned a proclamation this week supporting residents who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

County board member David Young brought the proclamation to the board's public health committee, which has originated much of the policy surrounding the local handling of the pandemic. Young has long expressed doubts about the COVID vaccines.

"The whole theme behind having this proclamation is really just so that we can respect the decisions of the individuals that may oppose any mandates coming through, especially the vaccine mandates," Young told the committee. "Respect the individuals that are not going to get the vaccine and have concerns over possible injuries from the vaccine."

The consensus of public health officials across the world is that, like all vaccines and medications, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the relatively rare negative side effects for most people. But there has been a consistent handful of Kane County residents urging county officials to denounce the vaccines since they became available. Young has been supportive of those voices.

His proclamation said, "No federal, state, or local law can compel or coerce any Kane County residents to receive medical treatment, such as medications, devices, procedures, or vaccines, in a manner that violates federal or state law."

It went on to say, "Isolation or quarantine of Kane County residents shall only be permissible when done in accordance with due process of law and applicable federal and state laws."

It was the repeated reference to state and federal laws, including the Constitution, in the proclamation that seemed to confuse Young's fellow committee members. Several board members said they didn't see the need for the proclamation because all the protections it lists already are contained within the state and federal laws mentioned.

"Reading this, it almost implies there is some concern the health department would violate state or federal laws," said committee member Jarett Sanchez. "That is not the case. We have never proposed any type of vaccine mandate or any restriction for any of our employees, even in the heat of COVID."

Other board members backed away from the proclamation because they didn't think it was inclusive of all personal medical choices, such as abortion.

"Abortion was not even part of this," said Young when committee member Mavis Bates asked if the proclamation supported that medical choice.

Still, other committee members feared the proclamation could set the wrong tone for non-COVID-19 medical situations involving quarantine and medical treatment. The county quarantined multiple people in a local hotel and supervised the taking of medication during an outbreak of tuberculosis that began at a homeless shelter in 2007 and grew to gain national attention by 2012.

Tuberculosis is a potentially fatal illness that spreads easily through the air.

"I think this opens up a whole lot of can of worms," committee member Monica Silva said. "I cannot support it even though, on a personal level, I don't disagree with many of the statements."

Young and committee member Rick Williams were the lone votes in support of the proclamation. The failure at the committee level means the full county board will not weigh in on the issue.

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