By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County health department stops following state law for teen vaccinations

State law allows teen-agers 15 and older to decide for themselves whether to be vaccinated, without parental consent, including choosing the vaccine for COVID-19. But, reportedly at the request of County Commissioner Mary Starrett, Yamhill County Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin quietly stopped following that law this week. 

The county Public Health Department, which holds two weekly vaccine clinics, changed  its vaccine page this week to state that it was requiring parental permission to vaccinate all teen-agers up to the age of 17. After questions from the News-Register on Wednesday, however, Public Health removed the notes about the new requirement. 

County Commissioners have no direct authority over any county staff except Huffer and Boenisch.

But Starrett told the News-Register that “in this case, minors should have the oversight/ input of parents when considering the risks involved with receipt of this experimental drug.”

She said, “I appreciate HHS Director Lindsey Manfrin pivoting to address the issue of administering these drugs to minors by requiring parental consent.”

County Commissioner Casey Kulla, however, told the News-Register that “If the news was conveyed accurately that Commissioner Starrett directed a county employee to do something that is clearly illegal by state law, this is very concerning.”

Kulla said that “according to legislative counsel, if we are providing vaccines to any people in this age group, we cannot require parental consent. By doing this, we risk legal action against the county, and medical providers who work for the county risk their medical licenses.”

Kulla said that “First, the board of commissioners do not directly supervise any county employees except county counsel and administrator; directing an employee to do something is both inappropriate and an abuse of power. Second, any new direction to staff that comes from the county administrator must be based upon a majority vote of the board of commissioners; I do not recall such a matter coming up for a vote.”

The board is scheduled to vote on a proposal to require parental consent on Thursday. It has not previously discussed the issue.

Manfrin did not answer questions from the News-Register.

Huffer also did not answer most of the News-Register’s questions, but said that “Lindsey and I have been engaged in meetings and lengthy discussions on this specific topic … we will be seeking policy direction from the Board.”

Huffer did tell the News-Register that “Per Ordinance 648, “Board members may not direct any County employee, other than the County Administrator, in the performance of their duties. …

“While I don’t believe a directive was given in this case, if an appointed department head ... or employee feels they have been given a directive from an individual Commissioner and ... has a concern regarding the perceived directive, that department head or employee would bring that concern to me and I would follow up with the individual Commissioner and Board,” Huffer said.

Huffer said that “Commissioners can be very active in their areas of liaison; however, County policy is set by the Board.”

He referred questions about the legality of the requirement to County Counsel Christian Boenisch.

Linn County has already enacted a requirement for parental consent for 15 to 17-year-olds, but some state lawmakers say that requirement violates state law.

The Oregonian reported on May 18 that Rep. Marty Wilde has asked the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate the Linn County requirement.

In response, County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer wrote on Facebook that she will vote against accepting state money for outreach to teens, and wants to require parental consent because “our children's civil liberties are THAT important.”

She accused Governor Kate Brown of “trying to bribe” teen-agers to take the vaccine.

Berschauer wrote that “I am happy to report that Yamhill County's Public Health Director has agreed to require parental consent for youth 18 and under who receive a dose through a county health sponsored event. … Children were not contracting the virus in significant numbers to begin with, but now they are being used to boost vaccination levels. It's wrong and like most decisions in the healthcare system, it's motivated by money. It's time to stand up for what's right and fight to protect our children. “

In Yamhill County, children and teen-agers are the second-largest age group of people contracting COVID-19. The largest is people in their 20s.

As of Wednesday the county has seen 786 cases of COVID-19 in people 19 and younger. The county has seen 4,535 cases total.


Duck believer

The circus continues.....................


So instead of letting my teenage child (if I had one) make up her own mind about getting vaccinated against Covid Starrett and Berschauer want to impose their will upon her. Talk about trampling my and my child's civil liberties in service to their crazy ideas about public health. Keep your nose out of my and my child's business!

Don Dix

State law or not, what would stop an eligible Yamhill County teen from getting vaccinated in another county if they desire?


Why would anyone want to make it more difficult for people to get a vaccination if they wish to?....
Ms Manfrin is in charge.....she needs to explain her logic to the public and why state law is not being followed......”no comment “ won’t cut it!


What is going on in this County? We have two Commissioners who are anti-mask anti-vaccine and believe because of their beliefs they should be able to block a minor from being vaccinated.
Not only do they spread false narratives on Facebook & in the local community but now they are violating a state law by telling our County Health official to stop giving vaccines to minors.
Starrett and Berschauer are out of control and are leading our County into dangerous territory. So Yamhill County are we going to allow these two to impose their beliefs or are we going to stand up to them?
Yes Duck believer the circus does continue with these two clowns leading the way. What gives them the right to speak for all?
Wake up people they are only interested in their own beliefs. They do not represent everyone only those who share their views. Anyway you look at it, this is not right.


*County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer wrote on Facebook that she will vote against accepting state money for outreach to teens, and wants to require parental consent because “our children's civil liberties are THAT important.”*

Can someone please explain to me how taking away teenagers' rights to make their own medical decisions as permitted by law is protecting their civil liberties? Or, barring that, explain to Ms. Berschauer what 'civil liberties' actually means?

Duck believer

IMO, a demagogue governs by creating a crisis. If you notice, since January, these two have simply governed by creating a crisis - or creating the perception of a crisis - on a consistent basis. To address maddiesdaddy, there is clear basis for a recall petition since these two clearly violate their oath of office (on multiple occasions) by simply choosing which laws they want to follow and which ones they don't. They've given all the ammunition needed for anyone who desires to initiate a recall.


June 1st is the end of Lindsay’s ‘free ride’. I am anxiously awaiting the great chances for a recall petition to be filed. A lot of us are getting very tired of this BS.


Maddiesdaddy: per your statement "...the circus does continue with these two clowns leading the way. What gives them the right to speak for all?"
The answer, sadly, is that we gave them that right: we elected them. Multiple times, for Starrett. I know Casey Kulla, and I have to say I feel deeply sorry for him, as he tries to work with those two.


Yes Carolsm unfortunately we did elect them. I for one would gladly work on a recall for Berschauer. I also believe that the Public Health Director needs to step down. She has allowed her department and our County to be ran by Starrett & Berschauer.
Her department administers the vaccine that Starrett calls an “exploratory drug.” We are still in the midst of this pandemic and whether you want to believe it or not, the vaccine is being proven to greatly reduce the spread of the virus.
Not only is the virus still circulating in our County but the age group in question is second highest right now. It’s also obvious that neither Starrett or Berschauer believe in Science. Again right or wrong you don’t instill only your beliefs when you represent all.


At some point our County WILL be sued over this....


I don't feel a 15 year old should be able to get any type of vaccine without parents consent. That is just too young, and too naïve. They want to be adults so bad, they feel like they are doing something 'cool' and parents can't say anything about it. My daughter was given the gardasil vaccine without my consent. The dr. made her feel so powerful with being able to do something like that without my consent OR knowledge. She regretted it as an adult, when it took her several years to conceive!!!

Rob Redford

I agree with My Opinion. Teens should have parental consent for anything that goes into their body. There may be lasting effects with their particular health history that can cause permanent damage.


Fifteen is too young to make this type of decision. I'm not saying a 15 yr old shouldn't get vaccinated against COVID. I'm saying 15 is too young for this decision to be made on their own, and they may not follow up on their 2nd dose if they do this without parental consent.


This flagrant disregard of procedural processes is clearly grounds for a recall.


I wonder how long it will take for a savvy 17 year old to be denied and then visit a local attorney?......Pretty sure Yamhill county by ignoring state law loses that fight in court....

This looks like the page with the recall forms.
If anyone wants to get started on the recall, you might want to download the forms quick before BS makes someone remove these.

Duck believer

For myopinion, Rob Redford, NativeOregonian - whether you agree with the law or not is not the issue. The point is that the commissioners take an oath of office swearing that they will uphold the laws of the United States and the State of Oregon. Not just the ones they agree with. In this and other cases, B & S have clearly not upheld their oath of office. In addition, for Starrett to direct the H&HS Director while skirting around the County Administrator is also a direct violation of County Ordinance. Put these all together and there is clear and compelling basis for a recall from public office.


There are several scenarios in which the medical age of consent being 15 is a good thing. Suppose a kid is homeless and wants medical treatment. Suppose a kid is sexually active and does not want to tell her parents. Suppose a kid is on drugs and similarly wants treatment without telling his parents. These kids are already making adult-level decisions about their lives and need to be supported even if they cannot get support at home. Of course it would be ideal if parents and their children had trusting relationships, but this is not always the case.


If you're against these two wingnut commissioners already, they just gave you the gift of the year. No way they keep their positions after this.

Jeb Bladine

A comment on this story, posted under screen name “BOC,” was eliminated because it violated a rule that real names be associated with comments, even when people opt for anonymity by using screen names. The writer of the comment logged into the newspaper website using credentials from an account maintained by the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners – a spokesperson reported that the comment did not come from anyone associated with the BOC.

We encourage individual Yamhill County commissioners and others to avoid posting comments using “BOC” as the screen name, unless the comment represents an official statement from the Board of Commissioners. The website registration system allows change of screen names for individual comments.

Further, it appears that BOC account credentials have been used from a wide variety of computer login locations, which allowed the posting of that now-deleted comment. We encourage the BOC office to change its login credentials regularly and avoid distribution of those credentials in ways that allow non-subscribers to gain access to content.

Jeb Bladine


Starrett's comment is right on. By allowing kids under 18 to get this vaccine is to drive a wedge between families and send the message to kids that parents' input should not matter. That is dangerous and opens Pandora's Box to the government deciding they are better at deciding what kids need than a kid's own parents. The vaccine is an extremely personal decision based on so many cirucmstances. Our own doctor has told us people should not even get the vaccine if they have already had Covid. I've heard other doctors are saying this as well. So if a parent happens to believe their doctor and knows their child had covid and doesn't feel it wise for child to get vaccine, they should be able to make that decision. That is part of the privilege that comes with the responsibility of being a parent. Period. For the person saying "well what about homeless kids?" Those are exceptions that can obviously be made. Thank you, Mary! I don't agree with you on the trail issue but am 1000 percent in agreement with you on this.


15 year old child is responsible for insurance premiums and co-pays, by all means, their choice.
Family is important for both support and education, without family support and education, wolves in sheep's clothing await.
I feel our youth are being exposed to sway political agendas.


Didn't the county health director say they were requiring parental consent for those 17 and under? Berschauer then goes on to say it is required for those 18 an under, according to her quote in the article. We really need a county commission comprised of people who pay attention to what is actually being done, Berschauer seems to content herself with bloviating about that of which she knows little. Maybe she should do some actual work and give the grandstanding a rest for a while.


Reluctant though I am to point this out, we don't live in a "Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver" era. There are definitely parents who shouldn't be trusted to raise a goldfish. Teenagers 15 and older wanting the vaccine should have it, by state law. The underlying problem here--and one which will remain as long as these two big frogs are gazing down from Mt. Olympus--is they are absolutely drunk with what they perceive as power. And also not overly intelligent. A dangerous combination.


Lulu, no we don't live in a "Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver" era anymore. Do you think that's a good thing? Do you miss the era where we didn't have school shootings, big city looting, destroying businesses in cities all weekend? Do you think we should be glad for this new era where our kids live most of life from their screens instead of the real world? Are you glad to be done with family meals and kids playing outside all day getting fresh air? Just curious... And just because there are bad parents out there doesn't mean you then take decision-making away from all of them. That's ridiculous.


Sorry--I'm still working on question #4.


So...I’m still waiting for Manfrin to weigh in on this.....Did she personally decide to go against state law?...where did she get that authority?.....NR please follow up.....



The NR article of May 25 makes clear that the commission liaison to Yamhill county HHS directed the change in Vax policy that violates Oregon law......and Ms Manfrin was following those directions. Thank you NR for the clarification....

Jeb Bladine

A few clarifications are needed here:

1) The May 25 story did not say the commission liaison directed the change in policy. It reported that the full commission, by a 2-1 vote on May 20, directed that change. Together with previous stories, we reported that Commissioner Starrett had requested the change; that YCHHS Director Manfrin responded that she already had made the change; and that Manfrin later acknowledged she had made a mistake in doing that and actually opposed the change that commissioners Starrett and Berschauer then voted to approve.

2. Commissioner Berschauer would have to serve 6 months -- to early July -- before being eligible for a recall action.

3. It is unclear whether readers who oppose teens aged 15-16-17 getting vaccinations without parental consent also believe that local officials should be able to order others to ignore that or other state laws.

4. Finally, as an aside to "Oregonian," I was concerned about possible misuse of "wingnut," which I see defined as "a nut with a pair of projections for the fingers to screw it on" ... and also as "an Asian tree of the walnut family, with a deeply fissured trunk, compound leaves, and characteristic broad-winged nutlets." So I looked up its possible slang usages. My apologies for doubting you.


Thank you Commissioners and Ms. Manfrin for protecting parent rights to choose what is best for their children.


Point taken....


So now duly and lawfully elected Commissioner Kulla must assume that a senior director in a county agency will be actively opposing his next reelection campaign.

This is why you don't want commissioners micromanaging county employees. And this is why if you are a county employee, and you wish to retain both your job and your First amendment rights, you politely decline such micromanagement.


Sonny, Ms. Berschauer and Ms. Starrett did not protect parental rights. That is beyond their scope of influence.

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