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Elko County board turns down ban on COVID vaccines

Updated January 18, 2023 - 6:09 pm

The Elko County Board of Health took no action at its meeting Wednesday on an agenda item that asked the board to consider issuing a moratorium on administering COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

A concerned resident asked for the moratoriums to be placed on the agenda, citing concerns with heart problems and inflammation. But Board of Health commissioners agreed that they did not have the authority to ban vaccines, and that the decision to get a vaccine should be left up to individuals and their doctors.

“The best way to be safe is find a health care provider that you trust,” said Chair Bryce Putnam. “Have an open, honest conversation with them, and proceed from there. Because once we start looking at the internet, once we start taking a deep dive, it kind of takes us into this realm where we don’t know what’s reality, what’s actually being done or what’s being posted.”

The board also considered discontinuing local advertising for COVID-19 and flu vaccines, pending “further investigation and results of the Florida Supreme Court case to investigate the wrongdoing related to COVID-19 vaccines,” according to the agenda. The county does not do any advertising for COVID-19 vaccines, Putnam said. It does tell people where vaccination sites are located, Putnam said.

Elko skeptical of vaccine

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elko County residents have pushed back against vaccine and mask mandates.

“I find it hypocritical that we would consider banning people from taking the vaccine when we’ve argued for two years now that we cannot order people to take the vaccine,” said Commissioner Rex Steninger. “We can’t order people to wear masks. I feel the same way about this moratorium. If somebody wants to take the vaccine that’s their decision. Outright, I’m opposed to government telling our citizens what they should do.”

While some board members did express concerns about the vaccines, they argued it was not up to the board to ban administering vaccines.

“I don’t think the government should be involved in any health care decision,” said Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi. “I think it’s a very slippery slope when the government starts saying one, or the other. Because we’re not physicians. We don’t know the ramifications for, or against.”

In Elko County, about 53 percent of residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and about 45 percent have gotten two doses as of December 2022. Statewide, about 83 percent of Nevadans have received one dose, and 67 percent have received two doses, according to a COVID-19 vaccine tracker.

Allegations against vaccine

Vern Hatch, an Elko resident who is a “compiler” and “researcher” with a “background in alternative health,” had put in the request after he did research on vaccines in which he said vaccines allegedly contain venoms from different snakes, a “firefly, insect protein that causes luminescence,” and microchips.

“There are a lot of people dying, there are a lot of people being injured by this particular vaccine,” Hatch said.

Fact checking organizations as well as medical organizations have debunked those theories, and medical organizations continue to assert vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness. The Centers for Disease Control says COVID-19 vaccines are “safe and effective and severe reactions after vaccination are rare.”

Nevada’s health departments continue to encourage Nevadans to get vaccinated and talk to their doctors.

Dave Sheehan, public information officer at the Southern Nevada Health District, said in an email that health officials recommend people take steps to protect themselves and others since respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and flu continue to circulate in the community.

“Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines is one of the most effective ways to protect against serious illness,” Sheehan said in the email. “The Health District also recommends people get their seasonal flu vaccine, wash their hands often with soap and running water, get tested for COVID-19 if needed and stay home if they are sick.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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