The Wells County commissioners have taken a public stance against the potential of a vaccination mandate.

A “Resolution for Healthcare Freedom and Privacy and Against COVID-19 Immunization Passports” was unanimously approved Monday by Blake Gerber, Michael Vanover and Jeff Stringer.

The two-page document outlines the county’s views against a mask and vaccination mandate if one was to be imposed by the state or federal government. There have been talks across the nation of a “passport” that would document that a person was vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to participate in certain activities or travel.

Vanover said the resolution approved this week means the county does not support such a mandate in the county government.

“It is also the right of our citizens to wear a mask or receive a vaccination. I personally support those who choose vaccinations and masks and I ask that even if it’s not your choice, to be respectful of others,” he said before the vote was taken. “Essentially, I think that we’re smart enough in this county to make healthy decisions if we’re armed with correct information. The smallest minority in this country is the individual.”

Vanover added that he believes vaccination “is the best way to eradicate infectious disease,” but he doesn’t want to put an individual or business in the position where they are forced to do so.

Commissioner Jeff Stringer’s main concern was whether the commissioners approving a resolution prohibited them from approving an ordinance at a later time. He was told a resolution can always be repealed.

Gerber said the resolution sums up what was discussed with Bluffton resident Brandon Harnish at the last meeting, who asked the commissioners their opinions on such matters. Stringer concurred with Gerber, adding the commissioners have publicly stated their positions on the matter previously.

Select excerpts include:

• “In Wells County, we believe health decisions are best made by individuals, not public health agencies.”
• “We respect the authority of our local school boards and their citizen members to make decisions regarding the reentry of students to our schools but we continue to believe that parents are in the best position to make medical decisions for their children and that these parents’ rights should be strongly considered as such decisions are made by our local school boards.”
• “We will continue to do everything within our power to see that necessary services for testing and vaccination are made available to everyone in the county and we look forward to the time when we are able to move past the COVID-19 pandemic.”
• “In the absence of a state or federal mandate, Wells County will not create or enforce one.”
• “If the state or federal government create a vaccination mandate, Wells County will not voluntarily use its resources in support of the same.”
• “As a statement of policy, politics, or morality, Wells County disagrees that such a mandate is proper.”
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