This week, in an amazing move for a local entity, the St. Joseph County Commissioners voted 3-0 to pass a resolution against vaccine passports. The document is a win for health freedom in Indiana, and hopefully will be shared throughout the state. “I don’t have better words,” said 95.3 MNC radio host Casey Hendrickson, after reading the entire resolution on the air. “This is what happens when your government sticks up for you.” He applauded and added a “Bravo!”
A resolution is essentially a policy statement. It is non-binding, but it sets an important tone for a community and ignites discussion. A dialog about the dangers of vaccine passports is one that we need to be having everywhere. Highlights of the resolution include:
- No vaccine should be mandated or required by law
- People have the right to refuse vaccination based on religious, medical or personal reasons
- Every medical intervention requires informed consent and the right to refusal
- Vaccine status should not be required by government or businesses operating places of public accommodation
- Vax passports will unduly restrict the freedom of Americans
- They will harm patient privacy
- They will have a negative financial impact on individuals of color and other marginalized communities
- They create a two-tiered society, where some people will have rights and others will lose their freedoms
- They could be manipulated to restrict other freedoms, like free speech or religious activity
You can read the complete resolution here.
The resolution is certainly a local accomplishment for the county. Citizens have been under the heavy hand of Health Officer Dr. Robert Einterz for months now. He put us under an illegal mask order; he tried to close churches down and make them go virtual; he tried to roll back our local economy; he tried to enforce a 10 p.m. curfew; he handed out abatement orders to area bars; and he ignored local leaders and extended mask rules after the Governor ended his own mandate. Einterz’s overreach, combined with the fact that an Indiana bill to provide health department oversight is still in limbo, made citizens like me and others feel like we needed to push back. That’s why we started to put forward the idea of a county-wide resolution.
Consider also how important legislation that was supposed to protect workers from forced vaccines died at the hands of Republicans in the state Senate. And add to that the fact that vaccine passport protections passed by the General Assembly in April are bare bones, and only restrict government — but not business — from issuing or requiring an immunization passport. The time was ripe to make a statement about why vaccine status can’t dictate our freedom.
On the Tuesday morning the resolution went before the commissioners, many local citizens, including myself, spoke of why this kind of document was necessary. My comments that day included:
“By passing this resolution today, you are making an important statement that other governors are echoing across the nation: vaccine passports are a bad idea for a free society. To shut someone out of a business or a venue because they’re not vaccinated is discriminatory. All of us have personal reasons for taking or not taking the vaccine. Some of us don’t even need it because we are naturally immune. To say that only the vaccinated in our community can enjoy all the privileges of our society is un-American, and it is coercive. For so many of us, Covid isn’t even a serious threat. We need to stop over-exaggerating this illness and move forward. By passing this resolution today, you are encouraging St. Joe County to engage in this important conversation and consider the damage vaccine passports could do to by splitting our community in two.”
We are fortunate, that in the end, all three of our Republican commissioners — Deb Fleming, Derek Dieter and Andy Kostielney — made the bold move of echoing our feelings by voting to put forth this official statement. It’s a start in what we hope is a message that will spread throughout Indiana and possibly to the entire country. Our hope is that we will start working with neighboring counties to support similar resolutions and extend outward. The more effective we are in this effort, the more likely we are to start shaping the conversation all over Indiana. In this way, we think we will be most successful in pushing forward meaningful vaccine protection legislation at the state level next year.
Amy Drake is a former journalist and speechwriter raising a family in Granger, Indiana.