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County commissioners oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Russell Daugherty, left, and Rusty Farace, both of Ashland, walk Wednesday to the Rogue Valley Mall.
Commissioners also oppose checking vaccination status

Jackson County commissioners unanimously approved a proclamation this week stating their opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or requirements that people disclose their vaccination status.

The proclamation states, “Jackson County opposes any mandate that an individual receive a vaccine for COVID-19 in order to access any public or private good or service.”

Commissioners didn’t cite examples of mandatory vaccination requirements in the proclamation.

Southern Oregon University is among a string of public and private universities that have announced students and staff will be required to get vaccinated for the fall term. The schools are allowing medical and nonmedical exemptions provided by state law.

The commissioners also said in the proclamation the county opposes any mandatory requirement that a business, faith institution or other organization verify the vaccination status of a person.

They also oppose any mandate on private individuals to disclose their personal medical information for the purpose of accessing a public or private good or service.

The Oregon Health Authority has said businesses and faith institutions must verify the vaccination status of individuals before allowing them inside without masks.

The commissioners’ proclamation says the verification requirement forces businesses, faith institutions and other organizations to train employees to interpret medical records and figure out if a person qualifies as “fully vaccinated.”

Whether a person is considered fully vaccinated varies depending on how long ago they had the last of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The proclamation says businesses, faith institutions and other organizations face state fines and other consequences if a person miscalculates the “fully vaccinated” date.

The proclamation doesn’t have any legal power and doesn’t shield organizations that violate state regulations.

The commissioners said Oregon appears to be the only state in the country “to impose a mandatory duty on private businesses, faith institutions and other organizations to verify the vaccination status of their employees, customers and guests ...”

In May the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks in most indoor settings.

The commissioners said the state’s vaccination verification rule has added to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown that have driven many local companies out of business during the pandemic and pushed others to the brink of closure.

The commissioners said the residents of Jackson County are capable of making private, individual health care and lifestyle decisions for themselves and their families.

They have previously called for an end to all the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, including limits on restaurants and gyms.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.